Loved ones of those suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia are always looking for ways to bring out memories inside those who are suffering from the disease, which has yet to have a cure. 

Studies show that one of those triggers is music. Martine Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing is sharing details from the Alzheimer’s Association on how music can be the key to unlocking memories in patients.

The Link Between Music and Long-Term Memory

Research shows that dementia attacks short-term memory first, affecting their ability to remember recent events. Most often, however, music is usually associated with events from earlier in people’s lives – weddings, school graduations, being with friends in school, etc. Therefore, music is in long-term memory, which isn’t affected as quickly by Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

Music as Therapy

Until there is a cure, therapies revolving around dementia are aimed at either delaying symptoms or improving quality of life. Music falls into the latter category, as research shows that listening to familiar music can reduce anxiety, depression, and aggressive behavior in patients, as well as aiding in swallowing and pain management. 

Music has also proven to be a way to unlock further memories inside a person. There are many cases where loved ones say that once they are prodded by the right song, patients even in advanced stages of diseases that attack cognitive ability. Those people report that once a song is played that holds meaning to them, the patient will be able to draw from memories from their childhood and other major events from earlier in their life – events that they didn’t have the ability to remember before a particular song was played. 

The National Institutes of Health recently awarded a $20 million grant to allow for further research regarding music and dementia.

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