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Parade Magazine Highlights Music as Prevention Against Alzheimer’s Disease

April 9, 2018 10:25 AM

Parade Magazine Highlights Music as Prevention Against Alzheimer’s Disease

“The Cheater's Guide to Beating Alzheimer’s: New Research and Prevention Breakthroughs,” by Mary Spencer Scott in PARADE magazine (April 8, 2018), highlights the benefits of music as a promising approach to reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s, especially music-making that requires participation, such as singing or playing an instrument. Contrary to what physicians were taught in medical school even five years ago, individuals can do many things to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. “Scientists now think a complex mix of lifestyle, genes, age, environment, and health conditions leads to the brain changes of Alzheimer’s—up to 20 or 25 years before obvious symptoms.” “Alzheimer’s is finally joining the list of diseases we can have an early effect on,” says Harvard neurologist Reisa A. Sperling, MD.

Music therapists have advocated for using music and music-making for prevention and wellness. And music therapists use music therapy protocols as treatment to maintain cognition function or to help minimize the symptoms of dementia.  In their book, “Therapeutic Uses of Music with Older Adults,” music therapists Dr. Alicia Clair and Jenny Memmott provide the reader with research, practical information, and specific techniques for working with how to use music to assist those with Alzheimer’s and their families.  The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) website also provides information about the benefits of music therapy for those with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Board certified music therapists use music therapy techniques to help stimulate memories, assist with communication, improve mood, and connect clients with their loved ones, their caregivers, and one another.

Dr. Clair underscores the effectiveness of music therapy for older persons:

Music therapy treatment is efficacious and valid for older persons who have functional deficits in physical, psychological, cognitive and social functioning.  Research results and clinical experiences attest to the viability of music therapy even in those who are resistive to other treatment approaches.  Music is a form of sensory stimulation, which provokes responses due to the familiarity, predictability, and feelings of security associated with it.”

Music-making and music therapy are important tools to be used as we confront the challenge to prevent and to cope with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.