Ian Sample reports on new research indicating that singing classic songs from The Sound of Music, Oklahoma and The Wizard of Oz can help patients with Alzheimer’s.
Belting out classic numbers from hit musicals can boost the brain function of people with Alzheimer's disease, according to researchers who worked with elderly residents at a US care home.
Over a four-month study, the mental performance of patients who took part in regular group singing sessions improved compared with others who just listened.
In the sessions, patients were led through familiar songs from The Sound of Music, Oklahoma, The Wizard of Oz and Pinocchio.
The sessions appeared to have the most striking effect on people with moderate to severe dementia, with patients scoring higher on cognitive and drawing tests, and also on a satisfaction-with-life questionnaire at the end of the study.
Jane Flinn, a neuroscientist at George Mason University in Virginia, said care homes that did not hold group singing sessions should consider them, because they were cheap, entertaining and beneficial for patients with Alzheimer's.