Singing Beats Alzheimer's --10 Proven
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September 27, 2017

By Ariadne Weinberg, Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of
Doctors and Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and
other members of our Editorial Board.]









With Alzheimer's, as every one who has ever seen this disease
up close knows, there are good days and there are bad. The
key is to learn how to have more of the good days and to start
to decrease the bad. Alzheimer's destroys the brain's ability to
remember recent memories. Slowly, as the disease progresses,
even old memories are erased. But recently, scientists have
discovered that singing helps to combat this terrible disease by
preserving a memory pathway that Alzheimer's cannot destroy.

They have learned that singing, whether the Alzheimer’s
patient is actively singing themselves or even listening to sung
music, can be a magic ingredient in fighting Alzheimer's.  How
does singing improve the lives of Alzheimer's sufferers? Does
singing slow the progress of Alzheimer's disease?


The Magic of Music

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, the DSM classifies
Alzheimer’s as a major neurocognitive disorder because the
disease interferes with memory, language, judgement,
reasoning, and planning. Doing everyday activities such as
making a meal, paying bills, traveling to the store, and making
purchases can be more difficult.

Alzheimer’s disease was first identified more than 100 years
ago, and more information on the subject is constantly
emerging.

A person with Alzheimer’s may not remember what they ate for
dinner or important events in their life, but they can sometimes
sing a song from when they were a teenager.

Music can spark up conversation and get those neurons
connecting better.

We have found the following 10 proven ways that singing
combats Alzheimer’s disease:






























1.
Singing Actually Enhances a Special Kind of Memory That
Alzheimer's Cannot Destroy

In 2010, Nicholas R. Simmons-Stern from the Geriatric
Research Education Clinical Center in the Virginia Hospital in
Bedford, Massachusetts conducted a study involving the lyrics
of unfamiliar children’s songs.

They were presented bimodally, meaning Alzheimer’s patients
and a control group were presented with visual stimuli
accompanied by either a spoken or sung recording.

The patients with Alzheimer’s demonstrated better recognition
accuracy for sung than spoken lyrics, while healthy older adults
showed no difference.

The researchers had a couple hypotheses. The brain areas
which helps to remember music might be spared in Alzheimer’s.
Another theory is that music heightens arousal in patients with
Alzheimer’s.

The way we learn music is the same way that we learn routines
and repeated activities, and is called “procedural memory.”

While much of episodic memory, that which refers to specific
events in our lives, is lost, sometimes procedural memory
remains intact.  

2.
Singing Provides Overall Cognitive Benefits in Early Stage
Alzheimer's

Singing is not only especially fulfilling emotionally for those
with Alzheimer’s, the activity is great for the brain. Singing
helps the ability to pay attention, improves the executive
functions in the brain and improves cognition overall in the
early stages of dementia.

In 2014, Dr. Teppo Sarkamo from the University of Helsinki
performed a controlled experiment with 89 people with
dementia and their caregivers.

The first group (30) participated in a 10-week singing coaching
group, the second (29) a 10-week music-listening coaching
group, and the third (29) a 10-week usual care control group.
The singing group activities involved singing and listening to
familiar songs and sometimes included vocal exercises and
rhythmic movements.

Researchers found something startling. Singing increased
attention, executive function, general cognition, orientation and
even elevated depression.

3.
Singing Sad Songs Helps Trigger Recall of Autobiographical
Events

Emotions are an important trigger for memory and learning,
even in those without Alzheimer’s. J.J. Melián Garcia and
psychologists from the University of Salamanca in Spain
wondered about the effects of listening to songs with lyrics
with different emotional contents.

In 2012, they tried to facilitate autobiographical memory with
songs that were happy, sad, lacking emotion, ambient noise in
a coffee bar, and no sound. Looking at a sample of 25 patients
with Alzheimer’s, they found that emotional music in general
was effective, especially sad music, in the recall of
autobiographical experiences.

The researchers came to the conclusion that not directly the
music, but rather the emotional associated, was useful for
semantic memory.

4.
Singing Enhances the Neurogenesis and Repair Mechanism

Amazingly enough, listening to music, sung or otherwise, has
an effect on the neuronal response and changes the number of
cells in your brain.

According a 2017 report by Rong Fang at the Saint Anthony
Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, clinical research shows that music
listening promotes neuron recovery and cognitive reservation
during the early post-stroke stage. There is also evidence that
steroids regulate neurogenesis and neuroprotection, and there
is a strong relationship between music activity and steroid
hormones.

5.
Singing Re-establishes Connections and Creates More
Equality

Singing, whether you are a talented diva or not, is a joyful
experience and a way to bond with others. Singing re-ignites
bonds in Alzheimer's patients with their past.

In one 2017 study conducted by Shreena Unadkat and
researchers from the Canterbury Christ Church University, they
discovered that singing was a great way to reconnect those
suffering from dementia and their life partner/caregiver. They
studied 17 heterosexual couples (average age of the dementia
patient: 72.2 years, caregiver 70.3 years) where one member
had dementia. They participated in a range of different types of
singing groups.

After analyzing results with the grounded theory methodology,
they discovered that both parties found singing joyful and
accessible. The creative expression circumvented cognitive
impairment and helped solidify the bond between them.

For those experiencing Alzheimer’s, singing helped to develop
an identity outside the diagnosis, and for those who had sung
before the disease, the experience of singing brought them
back to their “old selves.”.

One caregiver described how their partner “...was always the
singer, used to sing, it was like his old self really, it gave the
confidence to get that back.”  For the couple, the singing group
provided a change of roles, breathed oxygen into the
relationship, and gave a sense of bonding and togetherness.  

6.
Singing Improves Deep, Restorative Sleep

When 10 Alzheimer’s Disease patients (mean age 78.1 years)
participated in music therapy singing training for once a week
for six months, they found some nicely surprising results.

The experiment, organized in 2015 by Dr. M. Satoh from the
Department of Dementia Prevention and therapeutics graduate
school of medicine in Tsu, Japan, consisted of sessions
performed with professional musicians using karaoke and a
unique voice training method.

The control group was comprised of 10 Alzheimer’s Disease
Patients (mean age 77.0) and neuropsychological assessment
were performed two times within an interval of six months.

There was a significant decrease in the neuropsychiatric
inventory score and a prolongation of the patients sleep time.

7.
Singing Familiar Songs Can Encourage Conversation

People with Alzheimer’s have a decrease in spontaneous
speech. They tend to speak less and less as the disease
progresses or the speech becomes confused.

Dr. Ayelet Dassa and researchers from the Israel Bar-Ilan
University in Israel wondered if different types of music
therapy could encourage conversation amongst Alzheimer’s
patients.

In 2014, they conducted a study.  Six participants went to
group music therapy sessions. Later researchers qualitatively
examined transcriptions of verbal and sung content with 8
group sessions. They wanted to understand the relationship
between specific songs and conversations before and after
group singing.

Results were quite positive. Analysis indicated that
conversation related to the singing activity was extensive and
the act of group singing encouraged more spontaneous
responses.


8.
Singing May Improve Visual/Spatial Intelligence

Singing seems to boost other abilities as well, according to a
report from the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego.
Scientists reported a study done with Alzheimer’s patients:
Cognitive tests were performed before and after four months
of singing.

Mental ability in general improved amongst the singers. The
task of drawing hands on a clock face to show a particular time
was improved after four months.

9.
Singing Balances Hormones

Music therapists singing to patients can affect their hormones?
Wow, music is one hell of a drug. Yup, doctors are even
considering this as an effective replacement for hormone
therapy.

In 2012, H. Fukui from the Nara University of Education in
Nara, Japan, tested five women with Alzheimer’s between the
ages of 67 and 90. Each patient selected a song based on
personal preference.

The therapist sang songs from the microphone accompanied by
a keyboard sound from the amplified speaker. Listening to the
singing upped levels of 17-B estradiol and testosterone, which
are supposed to have preventative effects on Alzheimer’s
disease.  

10.
Singing Boosts Mood and Satisfaction

Being part of a happy group experience is good for everyone,
and Alzheimer’s patients singing is no exception. The Fisher
Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation reported on a case.

Researchers divided patients into two groups. One group sang
classic songs, like “Somewhere over the rainbow”, the other
group simply listened. Those who actually sang experienced
more overall satisfaction and improved mood.


























































Related:
Alzheimer's Disease -An Ideal Prevention Diet

Dancing Reduces Dementia Risk By 76%

Why Do I Forget Things?-Causes and Top 10 Natural Remedies

Improve Your Memory- Simple Steps

Foods That Shrink Your Waist /

Foods That Fight Depression

How to Raise Your IQ Naturally
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Singing increases a specific type of memory that
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