Playing Music in Your Twilight Years to Slow the Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease

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West, Lee-Anna
Fischer, Anna
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2018-04-20
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Playing Music in Your Twilight Years to Slow the Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease
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Abstract
Alzheimer’s disease is defined as “an irreversible, progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills” by creating amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain (National Institute of Health, 2017, p. 1). Eventually, this damage on the brain takes away patients’ abilities to perform activities of daily living, or ADLs, and severely lowers their quality of life. As of 2017, it was suggested that over five million people have this disease, most of them being diagnosed in their mid-60s (National Institute of Health, 2017). Currently, there are five drugs available to decrease symptoms and slow the progression of the disease (Traynor, 2015). However, recent studies have shown that non-pharmacological interventions, or NPIs, such as playing a musical instrument, can also help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by changing behaviors and improving patients’ quality of life (Backhouse, Killett, Penhale, & Gray, 2016). The purpose of this evidencebased practice brief is to compare how playing a musical instrument, including singing, once a week or more versus not playing a musical instrument affects the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in adults over the age of 65. The findings of this study can be recommended by nurses and applied by patients as an intervention to promote neural plasticity and preserve memory and cognition in older adult populations.
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