Music can be healing for people with Alzheimer’s

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Lawren and Collett Thach have been married for 35 years. Collett is now 66 years old and has early onset Alzheimer's. He began to first show signs of the disease when he was 60. These days, he has few memories and often even fewer words. Until, he puts on his headphones.

"Music just sets him on fire. It is so good to see him smiling and laughing," said Lawren. "It just takes him back to a time in his life when life was his oyster."

There's a growing amount of research that shows music can be such powerful medicine for people with dementia and Alzheimer's, that it helps not just with their mood, but helps strengthen their thinking and cognitive skills with everyday activities.

Thach is one of the day patients at Williams Day Center For Senior Services in Winston-Salem. Staffers there are using music as therapy to manage the patients' behavior and help increase their quality of life. Staffers say when the patients' favorite tunes play, what happens next is astounding.

"It's so neat to see them singing, we didn't even know they could speak some of them, and then we see them singing! Most of the music people are picking is from when they are between 15 and 30 years old. We're talking about music from their prom, their dating music, wedding music," said the Kathy Long, with the Williams Day Center.