Alzheimer’s disease is an international health concern – the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and the fifth leading cause of death for seniors, it affects an estimated 5.2 million Americans, including some 200,000 individuals under the age of 65 with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
In addition, it is the most expensive condition in the United States – nearly one in every five dollars spent by Medicare is spent on people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
But there’s a new treatment that may represent a breakthrough in the study of Alzheimer’s disease, and is relatively inexpensive as well: according to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, music therapy can help people living with Alzheimer’s manage mood and stress, as well as help facilitate better cognitive function and motor skills.
How Does It Work?
Music can help Alzheimer’s patients access memories and emotions, which can greatly improve patients’ quality of life. Studies using brain imaging technology have shown that music can trigger the release of dopamine in the brain, boosting a patient’s mood and connecting them to positive memories.
Due to the dopamine connection, music is fundamentally linked to positive memories, and can be incredibly therapeutic to those struggling with dementia.
The aim of music therapy, according to neurologist Oliver Sacks’s book Musicophilia, is to “address the emotions, cognitive powers, thoughts and memories, the surviving ‘self’ of the patient… to enrich and enlarge existence, to give freedom, stability, organization and focus.”
Music therapy isn’t only used in treating Alzheimer’s disease. It has been proven to be effective in helping people with Autism spectrum disorders regulate emotion, as well as in improving the moods of stroke patients, reducing anxiety in ventilator-dependent patients, and providing multiple benefits for people living with Multiple Sclerosis. Music can also greatly improve productivity at work.
- http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/12/jobs/how-music-can-improve-worker-productivity- workstation.html