Friday, October 26, 2012

The Power of Music: Bringing Alzheimer’s Patients “Back to Life”

Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, affecting 5.4 million people in the United States. The disease swiftly deprives patients of their memories and other brain functions. Many Alzheimer’s patients’ who need around the clock skilled nursing and medical care reside in nursing homes.

Ninety-two year old Ron sits in a wheelchair and hardly speaks or moves, until a nursing home worker puts on his headphones and he hears familiar music. Suddenly, his feet tap, and he hums his favorite songs out loud. His daughter Tina explains how Ron always loved singing and dancing when she was growing up. "He used to walk my sister and I to school and he would often be humming a tune or singing his favorite songs. It is no wonder he is reacting to the music as he is."

In nursing homes that use music, the personalized playlists are often meaningful songs chosen by loved ones.  According to Alzheimer’s experts, music helps patients become more alert, more cooperative, more attentive, and more engaged. In many cases, even if they can't recognize loved ones and they've stopped speaking, when the patients hear music, they “come alive”.

Geri Hall, a clinical nurse specialist at the Banner Alzheimer's Institute, explains how music activates a part of the brain that stays active despite the dementia. "There is something about music that gets through to Alzheimer’s patients right up until the very end of the disease," she said, adding that “familiar music from the past can help people with dementia feel at home. It calms them, increases socialization, and even decreases the need for mood controlling medications."

At The Law Firm of Evan Farr, P.C., we were intrigued by the power that music has on Alzheimer’s patients, and wanted to share this information with you.  If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s and want to find quality care for them in Virginia, get tips from expert Evan H. Farr, in “The Virginia Nursing Home Survival Guide.” One of the greatest concerns people have about nursing home care is how to afford it.  Read more about this in Chapter 5 of the book or on The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C. website.


  1. Hi Hanumant,

    Thank you for your comment. There is a documentary called "Alive Inside" that contains more info and examples of music and Alzheimer's patients. Check out this article about it:

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