Monday, January 23, 2017

The Sound of Music

By Teresa Dumain

NeurologyNow, April/May 2016

A playlist of familiar songs can help improve the well-being of people with Alzheimer’s disease

The Power of Music

 Personalized music playlists can help promote well-being and enhance quality of life for people with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive impairments, say Daniel C Potts, MD, FAAN, a neurologist at the Tuscaloosa Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Alabama, who witnessed the effect of music on his own father.  When Dr. Potts’ father, who passed away from complications of Alzheimer’s, was in hospice the last few days of his life, he couldn’t respond or speak at all.  “So we just stood around his bedside and sang the old church hymns he grew up with,” he recalls.  “We were amazed when he actually sang with us, or at least mouthed the words.”

To make a playlist for someone you love, follow these tips from the Music & Memory organization.

 Get the gear.  You’ll need a computer or tablet; an iPod or other digital music player; and a pair of lightweight, adjustable, over-the-ear headphones.

Create a song list.  Some digital music players hold up to 300 songs, others more.  Aim for 80 to 100 selections in the beginning.

Focus on familiar music.  Songs from the person’s own young adult years----when he or she was aged 18 to 25----may be the most engaging.  The key is to choose tunes that have positive associations.  Talk to family and friends for ideas, or, if possible, ask the person herself.  What artists or songs did she listen to when she was young?

For more information or help setting up a playlist, visit

Monday, January 16, 2017

Conversation Starter

By Gina Roberts-Grey

NeurologyNow, June, July Issue 2016


Maria Shriver started talking about Alzheimer’s disease after her father, Sargent Shriver, was diagnosed.  Ten years later, she’s still talking and people are beginning to pay attention.

 In 2003 she began asking questions, getting answers, and sharing that information with others.  Within a year of her father’s diagnosis, she was bringing those skills to bear on Alzheimer’s disease.

The more she learned, the more she realized she wanted to start a national conversation, one she hoped would translate into more support for people with Alzheimer’s disease and their families.

She started this trend by:

Public Discourse

Raising Awareness and Funds

Detecting A Pattern

A Call To Women

The Female Connection

Advocating Prevention

How to Help

 There’s much to be done to address the Alzheimer’s epidemic, says Shriver.  She offers some suggestions for the federal government in The Shriver Report, including providing an eldercare tax credit, eldercare leave, elder day care programs staffed by professionals trained in dealing with the disease, intergenerational day care centers, quality control of nursing homes and end-of-life facilities----and promoting eldercare savings programs to set aside money for future health care costs.

The government is responding to advocates like Shriver.  The Alzheimer’s Association hopes Congress will increase Alzheimer’s-related funding by $400 million in 2017.  And the proposed 2016 federal budget allocated an additional $350 million for Alzheimer’s disease research, a 60 percent boost that will bring total funding to $936 million.