Singing Show Tunes Boosts Brain Power in Dementia Patients

The Society for Neuroscience 2013 conference this week in San Diego brought forth a multitude of new discoveries in the field. One in particular stood out to us, because it demonstrated an extremely simple way to help boost brain power of elderly patients with dementia.

Music Programming

Researchers at George Mason University evaluated the effect that listening to and singing songs has on dementia patients. They referred to the process as “music programming” and the results of their study seem promising.

Scientists conducted their study at a long term care facility on the East Coast and divided dementia patients into two separate groups. Over the course of four months, the two groups both listened to music, show tunes in specific. Study leaders chose songs that were likely familiar to the patients, like tunes from the Sound of Music and The Wizard of Oz.

“A lot of people have grown up singing songs and for a long time the memories are still there,” Jane Flinn, a neuroscientist at the university told The Guardian. “When they start singing it can revive those memories.”

Study Details 

Both groups listened to the songs, but only one group sang along in the music sessions, which lasted 50 minutes each and were held 3 times a week. At the end of the study, the cognitive differences between the two groups were apparent. The patients who had only listened to the songs showed absolutely no sign of cognitive improvement when given cognitive and drawing tests. Those who sang along, however, showed marked improvements when tested.

The study suggests that singing can help enhance cognitive functions, even in patients with moderate to severe dementia. Researchers involved are encouraging long term care facilities to consider the results of the study when arranging activities for dementia patients. Group singing classes are not only inexpensive but can be extremely beneficial.

Flinn went on to explain her takeaway from the study: “Even when people are in the fairly advanced stages of dementia, when it is so advanced they are in a secure ward, singing sessions were still helpful. The message is: don’t give up on these people.”

You can read the official study abstract here.

A Growing Problem

The incidence of Alzheimer’s and dementia is expected to triple by the year 2050 and learning the different ways to help prevent dementia and ease the symptoms can help health care providers and individuals better decrease their risk. Read more about the prevalence of Alzheimer’s and dementia in Texas and the importance of reporting symptoms as early as possible.

US Memory Care Announces Locations Across Texas

Alzheimer’s and dementia are on the rise, and the number of cases in the United States is expected to triple by 2050. A massive influx of patients is about to hit the long term care facility industry, and there aren’t enough beds to take them all… Not yet, anyway.

Memory Care Gains Ground 

US Memory Care, founded in 2011, is currently in the process of opening a number of memory care facilities across Texas. The company’s first memory care center opened recently in Colleyville, a city outside Dallas. The facility was the first of 20 separate memory care facilities that US Memory Care plans to build over the next 3 years.

Construction began early this year on 2 other locations in North Dallas and Vintage. Facilities in 2 more locations, Cedar Park (outside of Austin) and Southwest Houston, were announced this week and are expected to break ground soon. Each US Memory Care facility is expected to be 60,000 square feet and hold 75 residents.

Memory care facilities have become increasingly popular as the need for dementia specific care becomes more apparent. Patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia require a very different environment than other nursing home residents, and senior housing developers are recognizing the importance of these care-specific settings in the long term care realm.

Designed for Success

US Memory Care facilities are all set up in the same way; they are separated into 3 “neighborhoods” developed around a “Main Street” common area. Each of the different neighborhoods is home to residents that require a similar level of care, and the common area focuses on positive social interaction.

Marti Smith, Regional Director of Marketing and Sales at US Memory Care released the following statement regarding the construction of the company’s new facilities: “At US Memory Care we live our mission everyday: to transform the lives of those afflicted with Alzheimer’s and those who care for them. Elderly care, especially in the area of memory loss, must provide a safe and compassionate environment for the residents and the families they serve. The design of our communities is unique to US Memory Care, and establishes a setting that enables us to provide the level of expertise and care for each resident on an individual basis.”

The setting certainly seems compassionate, namely the common room that includes a movie theater, barber shop, beauty salon, music hall, sweet shop, dining hall, and more. The typical image of cold, quiet halls in a barren nursing home that one might associate with long term care is completely squashed by this innovative type of care setting.

Progress Ahead

US Memory Care offers Texas residents a totally new way to receive dementia care. As Alzheimer’s prevalence increases rapidly across the nation, this specialized care is spreading in popularity, too.

Facilities like the US Memory Care facilities are top notch facilities that many people would choose as their preferred facility if given the option. However, not every one has the option. If you rely on Medicaid for your long term care, you will most likely end up in a standard nursing home. Patients with Long Term Care Insurance are able to choose from a variety of services, including in-home care, specialized care centers like these memory care centers, assisted living facilities, or nursing homes.

Long Term Care Insurance provides policyholders with the assurance that their assets will not be exhausted and they will still receive the type of care they prefer in the setting they choose. Texans are fortunate enough that the state has set up a Long Term Care Insurance Partnership Program, which incentivizes residents to buy LTCI. Visit our home page to learn more about the Partnership Program and general Texas LTCI information.