Alzheimer’s Disease: How Listening to Music Helps

Alzheimer’s is certainly one of the most frightening diseases.  While early diagnosis and treatment can have an impact on several types of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease continues to resist the efforts of researchers to find effective treatments. There is, however, a “but” in Alzheimer’s dismal profile: small steps are being made to relieve at least some of the disease’s symptoms.

A recent study confirms the well-established, positive effect music therapy has for patients with Alzheimer’s disease. It shows how patients with mild to moderate symptoms can benefit even more from this type of therapy by letting them choose the type of music they listen to. This simple approach resulted in significant decreases in anxiety and depression in patients. Moreover, the benefits lasted for up to two months after the music sessions were discontinued.

Even a little help like this could provide significant benefits since more than 5 million people in the United States now have this type of dementia, and more than 3 times that many will have it in just forty years.

Although the latest research doesn’t explain how listening to one’s favorite tunes improves mood, it confirms the value of including music therapy in a more comprehensive program designed to help manage the disease.

Despite the lack of cure, there are lifestyle choices involving diet and exercise you can make that may decrease your chances of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Even speaking a second language may provide a bit of protection against the second most feared disease of our time.


  • My mother had Alzheimer’s, and music gave her joy even at the last stages of the disease. When she danced, she lost herself- something that of course Alzheimer’s had already done for her. But unlike losing herself to a disease, she lost herself on her own terms, her own beat, her own rhythm. She was no longer an Alzheimer patient banished from a community where she once belonged. She was no longer a victim of Alzheimer’s. She was a Latina giving life to the music that she heard. She was in charge, not Alzheimer’s.

    Celia Pomerantz

    Author/Photographer of Alzheimer’s: A Mother Daughter Journey

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