Friday, April 30, 2010

Use the arts to fight early Alzheimer's

For 5.3 million Americans and their families and friends, Alzheimer’s disease is life-altering.

Although the duration of early Alzheimer’s varies, whatever time one has left still can be enjoyed, says Deborah Mitchell, author of How to Live Well With Early Alzheimer’s. A few examples:

View art. Researchers say art has a positive effect on emotions and can reduce aggression, agitation, apathy and anxiety. At galleries, let paintings “evoke whatever memories come up.” Doing art projects at home can improve hand-eye coordination and stimulate neuron activity in the brain.

Play music. Music can relax patients. Songs they enjoyed in the past can foster conversation.

Dance. Lessons can “provide physical exercise, increase the level of brain chemicals that stimulate nerve cells to grow and help some people recall forgotten memories when they dance to music they used to know.”

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