How Alzheimer’s Caregivers Use Enhanced Music to Recover Lost Memories

Have you ever wished, just once, your loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s might remember your name, or a treasured memory you both share?

More than 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia. Alzheimer’s robs patients of their memories, leaving many in need of care from their loved ones, or nursing home staff.

Giving care to an individual with Alzheimer’s is exhausting, and often heart-breaking. The things they used to love about you start to annoy them. They don’t seem to listen. They’re no longer interested in hobbies that sparked a sense of joy and purpose. That once-brilliant mind you admired becomes confounded by simple tasks.

According to a recent CNN report, the number of Americans aged 65 and older with Alzheimer’s is expected to triple by 2050. Rekindling lost memories improves quality of life of both the patient and the caregiver.

How Can Music Help?
Petr Janata, cognitive neuroscientist at the University of California, Davis Center for Mind and Brain, studied the relationship between Alzheimer’s patients and music and found fascinating results. “The brain appears to be wired throughout for music,” says Janata, “since it engages a wide variety of functions, including listening, language, and movement.” But Janata recently located an area of the brain, the medial prefrontal cortex, just behind the forehead, serving as a hub for music, memory, and emotions. It also happens to be one of the last areas of the brain to atrophy as a result of Alzheimer’s. This explains why a patient still remembers the lyrics to an old favorite, but not the day of the week, or the name of the street where they live.

You’ve Got the Music in You

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