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Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to waste away and die. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia, which is a term used to describe a group of symptoms that affect memory, thinking and social abilities severely enough to interfere with daily function.
As many as 5.8 million people in the U.S. were living with Alzheimer’s disease in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And this number is projected to nearly triple to 14 million people by 2060.
Memory loss is the key symptom of Alzheimer's disease. An early sign of the disease is difficulty remembering recent events or conversations. As the disease progresses, memory impairment persists and worsens, affecting the ability to function at work or at home.
Musical memories often are preserved in Alzheimer's disease, though, because key brain areas linked to musical memory are relatively undamaged by the disease. Research suggests that listening to or singing songs can provide emotional and behavioral benefits for people with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia.
Music also can benefit caregivers by reducing anxiety and distress, lightening the mood, and providing a way to connect with loved ones who have Alzheimer's disease — especially those who have difficulty communicating.
If you'd like to use music to help a loved one who has Alzheimer's disease, consider these tips:
Connect with other caregivers talking about Alzheimer's disease in the Caregivers: Dementia support group on Mayo Clinic Connect, an online patient community moderated by Mayo Clinic.
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