How Music Unlocks Hidden Memories in Alzheimer’s Patients

There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s disease. But with music, there is hope.

Many of us associate our favorite songs with distinct memories in our lives — our high school prom, our groups of friends, or maybe our wedding. But what happens when these memories are lost to Alzheimer’s disease?

Right now, more than 5 million Americans suffer from this disease with no known cure, but there are various treatments that can help improve the symptoms of dementia and memory loss. Music is one of them.

The part of the brain that senses music is one of the last to be affected by Alzheimer’s disease. That’s one of the central ideas behind the Music & Memory program, which delivers iPods and other devices loaded with personalized playlists to Alzheimer’s patients.

OU Medical Center in Edmond, Oklahoma is one of the hospitals that has found success with this program. After listening to these songs, patients are happier, more social, and they might even remember the lyrics.

Ninety-six-year-old Alzheimer’s patient Evelyn Smith rarely speaks. But once she puts on headphones and hears familiar gospel music from the early 1900s, she starts talking about memories from her childhood, like being raised on a farm.

Read more about the music therapy program at OU Medical Center, and share this if you’re proud to support the work that hospitals do to improve patients’ lives and — one day — find a cure.