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Musician versus Alzheimer’s disease questions

Postby runelk » Tue May 28, 2019 2:04 pm

My wife is currently studying to be a music therapist and we were talking about medical conditions at could use a music therapist and got to discussing about a musician’s brain. For an informal survey, do you know any musician that has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? If so, at what age did they get diagnosed? Were they still actively playing when diagnosed? We are wondering that being a musician we use both sides of our brain if that prolongs or prevents the onset of Alzheimer’s. Will take all responses.
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Re: Musician versus Alzheimer’s disease questions

Postby paulver » Tue May 28, 2019 3:30 pm

I can't answer the question you've posed. BUT........... two things that I have heard repeatedly regarding Alzheimer's are.... 1. Keep the brain active...... music, physical hobbies, reading, thinking games and activities, etc.

2. Researchers have been starting to connect Alzheimer's and Dementia to sugar!!! This info came from a researcher friend of mine. She and her husband used to work in "brain research" at Wake Forest on this sort of stuff. They've moved on to other things now, but one of their parent's came down with Dementia, and my friends swear that sugar played a significant role in it.
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Re: Musician versus Alzheimer’s disease questions

Postby JESimmons » Wed May 29, 2019 6:11 am

Yes. I know a married couple in their mid-80s. Both were college music majors and taught throughout their adult lives. They now live in an assisted living facility. The wife has diagnosed Alzheimer’s and still plays piano but needs constant care. The husband has memory problems - I frequently have to help him find pieces in his music folder. He practices tuba, French horn, trombone and baritone every day and plays with a brass group I’m in. He’d play in more groups, but needs to stay at home with his wife.

If your wife would like to hear my story about playing after a traumatic brain injury send me a PM.
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Re: Musician versus Alzheimer’s disease questions

Postby bloke » Wed May 29, 2019 9:12 am

I have no medical training whatsoever...which qualifies me to spout nonsense.

' doubt that there's a preventative effect related to specific types of cognitive activities. I've personally known busy/extraordinary musicians who fell victim to this disease, and know of several high-profile players (not acquaintances, but read of accounts...ex: Carl Fontana, yes?) who did as well.

A longer and longer list of diseases it seems (??), are being traced (evidence...often: not yet proven) to bacterial and viral causes (cancers, neurological deterioration, etc.) Obviously, toxins are proven/suspected as well but I (again: an ignoramus) tend to believe that poisons AND bacteria/viruses can be the triggers for many curable, partially-curable, and incurable devastating diseases.
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Re: Musician versus Alzheimer’s disease questions

Postby paulver » Wed May 29, 2019 9:32 am

Agreed.......cognitive activities probably won't prevent the diseases. However, the premise regarding said activities is to slow down the deteriorating process any way one can.

Also............ There is now an experimental drug being tested in regard to these afflictions. Don't know anything about it or what it actually does. Just heard about it a few days ago.
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Re: Musician versus Alzheimer’s disease questions

Postby windshieldbug » Wed May 29, 2019 10:29 am

You might want to look at (or already know about) New Horizons International Music Association.
It's a group that promotes 55+ age music programs.
Their research page is https://newhorizonsmusic.org/research
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Re: Musician versus Alzheimer’s disease questions

Postby johnfuente » Wed May 29, 2019 12:11 pm

Glen Campbell was arguably one of the most talented studio/performing guitarists of the late 20th century. He bravely shared his chronic, progressive, cognitive impairment with the world and toured until it was no longer possible. Do a search on him and you should be able to find some interesting anecdotes and links to research regarding musicians and Alzheimers.
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Re: Musician versus Alzheimer’s disease questions

Postby Alex C » Fri May 31, 2019 9:49 am

I can give you some apocryphal stories but your wife really needs academic research. I would suggest she apply for a government grant for this. She would be better paid than working for herself. Really, they type of specific information she needs is unethical (HIPPA) to share publicly, or maybe share at all.

Some general information I've noticed (I'll just use the masculine pronoun without intending to give the actual gender): One person I worked with was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, had been a fine jazz player, very active and skilled even in his 70's. Presently, he has the typical early onset problems ("now, who are you, again") and still plays gigs. Tunes seem to come from muscle memory ("what was that we just played') but in the musical moment he seems as he did years ago. He has always had great social skills and interfaces with a lot of his old fans while he has no idea who they are or why they want to talk to him but he is very happy to see them.

On the other side of the coin, another musician I worked with went downhill fast. Soon after diagnosis he lost the ability to play, did not recognize tunes and had had no particular attraction to music. Very sad.

There are likely different types of Alzheimer's. I've seen the videos of Alzheimer's victims activated by music , I do not think it is universal. That is only my unprofessional opinion.
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Re: Musician versus Alzheimer’s disease questions

Postby Bellalkaloid » Sun Jun 02, 2019 11:24 am

I love this subject. My understanding is that music lights up the limbic area of our brain, which regulates emotions, associations, and learning. Good music makes us feel things. When you think about it, our strongest memories are those associated with strong emotions. Our greatest moments of joy, or our most painful lessons, humiliation, etc. These are the experiences we never forget, because of the involvement of emotion when we learned those things.

The music stimulates their limbic system and wakes up a lot of pathways that have been inactive. Like adding oil to a seized rotary. Just simply playing music to patients with severe symptoms can give a successful response in their amount of focus, communication, and engagement. Especially music they associate with memories.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyZQf0p73QM Is a video about a man who was really into music and singing in his youth, and shows how quickly music helps bounce him back into lucidity.

Plus, as others said, just keeping the mind engaged by learning new things, reading music, expressing ones self, can help preserve mental function.
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Re: Musician versus Alzheimer’s disease questions

Postby MaryAnn » Mon Jun 03, 2019 11:15 am

I am unfortunately not an ignoramus about toxins, having had the toxic mold exposure that almost did me in. On top of that there are chemical exposures (e.g., pesticides, dryer sheets, fragrances, herbicides....you cannot avoid glyphosate no matter how hard you try,) mercury in the teeth (amalgam fillings, not yet totally recognized as a source of many brain problems,) alcoholism and sugar metabolism. Genetics play a huge part; one's ability to remove these things from the body, plus magnitude of exposure, pretty much determines outcome. There are also Alzheimer's genes, and I have the late-onset one. Which is one reason why I am more particular about what I put in my body than most, and don't care if people find me "too picky" about what I expose myself to. I already at 70 (in a couple weeks) have a slowing of recall that bothers me, and I'm headed into a lengthy and well-researched mercury chelation enterprise.
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Re: Musician versus Alzheimer’s disease questions

Postby Bill Troiano » Tue Jun 04, 2019 9:28 am

My mom had Alzheimer's and it was awful to watch her deteriorate. By the end, she was bedridden, and almost blind. She rarely knew who anybody was. Yet, she could sing songs along with her boom box. She had a very nice voice and she even made a few records of pop songs, when she was young, that made it to local juke boxes in Corona, Queens (NYC). She loved to sing and people would always ask her to sing at various gatherings. So, even up to her death, when she didn't know anything, she could sing old songs with her boom box, and she knew all of the words. Of course that would make my sisters cry, but it was pretty remarkable.
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