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Music therapy program helping people with Alzheimer's disease in Southern Colorado

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Music therapy program helping people with Alzheimer's disease in Southern Colorado Music therapy program helping people with Alzheimer's disease in Southern Colorado
COLORADO SPRINGS - It's a debilitating disease and more than 5 million Americans are living with it.

News 5 takes a closer look at how music therapy in Southern Colorado is helping people with Alzheimer's disease. 

It's not just bringing comfort to those suffering, but to their families as well.

"It's been an incredible gift for her, and a really incredible gift for me," said Kimberly Ezell. 

Songs that bring back memories for so many of us are now helping to keep her mom Arlis Adams in the moment. 

"Not in a place of wondering where her family is or trying to figure out where she is," said Ezell. 

Kimberly says if music is on, she's generally happy. 

"There are songs, because she likes George Jones, that are sad; and she'll cry a little bit and I'll say mom do you want me to change the song? And she'll say: 'Oh no it's so good' and she'll cry and the next song is happy and she's happy," said Kimberly. 

Arlis has Vascular Dementia. 

Kimberly says about two months ago, she got her mom an iPod and headphones.

"I visit her a lot at night because I work and night time is the worst time for them usually. They get anxious and I used to go and she'd cry and want to go home and be angry. Since we've gotten the music, it's rare that she does that," she said. 

She's not the only one it's helping.

Marga Callender with "Namaste Alzheimer Center" says their music therapy program has shown amazing results over the past few years. 

"We've all grown up with music in our lives and so that somehow has gotten inside of our minds and for whatever reason, I'm not sure that anybody really knows the real reason, that music, when people hear it, can help them go back to a place where they knew who they were, what was going on, it gives them definition, it gives them meaning." said Callender. 

With their program's use of headphones, it allows patients to focus, without any distractions. 

Barb Caudle - regional director for the Alzheimer's Association - says the use of music might even reduce the need for psychotropic medications.

"These might be folks that haven't really spoken much, may not have great verbal skills, and might not have for years, but you introduce a song that that person knows and loves and they start singing very clearly," said Caudle. 

It's Kimberly's hope that others will be aware of the warning signs. 

"Baring any major breakthrough, it's going to become a big reality in the next generation," said Ezell. 

And get their family members involved in therapies that help. 

"We need to teach people to see the people that have this disease, to see them and to hear them..just because they can't communicate in a way that we understand, doesn't mean that they don't communicate, they do," she added. 
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