Singing show tunes combats dementia: study

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Long-term care operators might want to add show-tune sing-alongs to their dementia care plans, new research suggests.

A team from George Mason University in Virginia conducted a four-month study at a facility on the East Coast of the United States. The participants, who had dementia, were divided into two groups. One group sang along with classic show tunes during 50-minute sessions three times a week. The other group just listened to the songs, which included numbers from “The Sound of Music” and “The Wizard of Oz.”

The singing group's performance on cognitive tests improved over the course of the four weeks, while the listening group did not show improvement, the researchers found. The results indicate that singing is an effective form of therapy for those with moderate to severe dementia, the researchers stated.

The type of song also could be important, the researchers told The Guardian. Familiar songs such as classic show tunes might activate the brain by sparking memories.

The findings were presented Saturday at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego.