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Singing can boost Memory and Mood for Early Dementia Patients, Study Finds

Update Date: Dec 10, 2015 11:34 AM EST

For people with early signs of dementia, singing can be an effective tool in boosting memory and mood.

In this study, the research team headed by Dr. Teppo Särkämö at University of Helsinki, Finland recruited a told of 89 early dementia patients and their caregivers. The patients were randomly divided into an intervention group and a standard care group. Patients in the intervention group either sang or listened to music that they were familiar with. This part of the study lasted for 10 weeks.

The researchers found that singing particularly helped patients with mild dementia who were younger than 80. This group experienced an increase in their working memory, orientation and executive function. Listening to music appeared to help patients who had relatively more severe dementia. Singing and listening to music, overall, helped improve depressive symptoms.

The researchers hope that their findings can offer patients with mild to moderate dementia another treatment option to turn to. Even though music will not cure their illness, it could make living with it a lot easier on them and their caregivers.

"Given the increasing global prevalence and burden of dementia and the limited resources in public health care for persons with dementia and their family caregivers, it is important to find alternative ways to maintain and stimulate cognitive, emotional, and social well-being in this population," Särkämö said reported by Medical Xpress. "Our findings suggest that musical leisure activities could be easily applied and widely used in dementia care and rehabilitation. Especially stimulating and engaging activities, such as singing, seem to be very promising for maintaining memory functioning in the early stages of dementia."

According to the Alzheimer's Association, there are more than five million Americans living with Alzheimer's, a disease that is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S.

The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

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