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Listen to music to alleviate the symptoms of Alzheimer's

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The auditory memory is in a brain area different from the rest of memories according to, specifically in the area of ​​the temporal lobe that is located near the temple and the ear.

Although this area is one of the first to be affected by the Alzheimer's and that under the effects of this disease many patients do not even know their own name, or recognize their closest relatives (spouses, children, brothers ...), it is common for people with this dementia to remember songs that they may have heard a long time ago, in their earliest youth. How is it possible that many do not have the ability to speak but can hum songs and get excited about them? Let's start with the basics.

Alzheimer's: what is it?

Alzheimer's, or senile dementia of the Alzheimer's type, is a neurodegenerative disease that causes severe damage to the brain, killing nerve cells and breaking their connections with each other, which produces an irreversible impairment of cognition, behavior and, usually, immediate memory. However, the intervention based on

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music therapy it can help in its treatment, despite not being able to cure the disease.

It is the most common type of dementia in terms of epidemiology; It is a devastating disease, not only for those who suffer from it, but for the relatives of the patient who observe how his relative deteriorates and how from being an independent and autonomous person he becomes a completely dependent.

Even so, in the area in charge of processing and storing the music, it seems that the affectation is less than in the rest of the areas. Recent studies by neurologists conclude that, for the most part, patients with an advanced level of this ailment retain their musical memories. In this way, music can help them relax and improve their mood. In this sense, music therapy is a good option to alleviate the effects of Alzheimer's.

What is music therapy?

Music therapy is the use of music in interventions carried out in medical, educational and everyday settings. It can be directed to individuals, groups or communities with the aim of improving their quality of life in different aspects.

The use of music therapy is increasing more and more in the treatment of Alzheimer's, as well as in the intervention on other types of neurological disorders, such as depression, Parkinson's, schizophrenia and the amnesia. One of the greatest advantages of music therapy is that any family member or caregiver can practice it at home with the patient.

How are the music therapy sessions carried out?

The therapy is carried out in groups, the therapists previously investigate the musical biography of the patient, asking their relatives and finding out what musical style is the one that the patient is. patient used to listen, or what song has a special meaning for him, that is, what song or theme is linked to a memory that in turn represented for the patient a Vital experience. For example, the song he was listening to when he met the one who would be his future wife or that melody of an old record player that he used to listen to in his childhood during the summer break... the examples are countless.

A particular melody or song is a link to past memories in the form of deeply held feelings and emotions. in our mind. This is because we are emotional beings; let's not be fooled by outdated beliefs that define the human being as a rational animal, emotions are very powerful and these precede ideas, since ideas can change depending on the emotions that sorry. In addition, patients can be invited to dance, in such a way that their physical condition is improved and they interact socially.

The efficacy of music therapy

Research has focused on determining the efficacy and physiological mechanisms that produce a considerable improvement in the symptoms of the disease. Music therapy has been shown to improve attention in patients and mitigate negative symptoms such as irritability, anxiety and the sadness.

In an investigation it was determined which areas of the brain were activated when listening to music and later it was analyzed if the areas before mentioned showed a deterioration or, on the contrary, if they resisted more the advance of the neuronal degradation that causes Alzheimer's. It was concluded that Neural stimulation through music produces cognitive benefits, that is, it improves concentration and orientation in reality in addition to maintaining speech and verbal communication skills. On a physical level it produces a sedative effect, and on a socio-emotional level it increases self-esteem, improves social interaction and prevents isolation and loneliness. As it is commonly said, "music is the medicine of the soul."
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