Music helps Alzheimer's patients recall

Music tied to long-term memory

INDIANAPOLIS - At "Auguste's Cottage" at Allisonville Meadows, it takes just a few notes to get some of the Alzheimer's patients up on their feet and dancing.

But it's much more than just fun -- it's music therapy that's triggering memories that the disease has stolen.

"Music stores itself in the long-term memories very deep in your brain, and even though you have residents who are not able to communicate effectively anymore with words, somehow they can still remember music that was a big part of their lives when they were younger," said Amanda Janz, with the Alzheimer's Association.

At Auguste's Cottage, they've noticed patriotic songs get the most reaction. 

In addition to the music therapy program, they use music throughout the day.

"We have music with our exercise program, in the afternoons we have relaxation time, we play soft music," said Ashley Gill, a memory care facilitator.

Science is still searching for a way to help reverse the short-term memory loss that makes Alzheimer's such a terrible disease. But for now music is a promising therapy that puts a smile on the faces of patients and their caregivers.

"I notice how they relax and are uplifted," one caregiver said.

At-home care givers can learn how to start their own music therapy program at home. Call the Alzheimer's Association help line toll free at 800-272-3900.

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