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Singing Show Tunes Shows Promise with Dementia Patients

Stephanie Howard/The Image Bank(NEW YORK) -- Music not only has charms to soothe the savage beast, as English poet William Congreve wrote but if you can manage to remember the words, a song might ease the effects of memory-robbing dementia.

Scientists at George Mason University in Virginia seem to have stumbled upon a remarkable discovery that elderly people appeared to stave off Alzheimer’s disease by singing songs from popular musicals.

During nearly-hour long sessions that spanned four months, residents of an assisted living home with moderate to severe dementia were asked to sing songs from The Wizard of OzOklahoma! and The Sound of Music.

Those who could recall the lyrics of their favorite tunes like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “The Sound of Music” demonstrated improved memory, compared to people who only listened to the music.

George Mason University scientist Jane Finn says song sessions are “cheap, easy and engaging” and recommends that other therapists try the same with patients suffering from dementia.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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