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App That Helps Patients Sing Their Favorite Songs Slows Dementia, Alzheimer's Disease, Improves Memory

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF)-- The positive affect of music on memory has been documented time and again. Researchers at the George Mason University in Virginia and the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego had amazing results when patients with dementia and Alzheimer's sang show tunes like "The Sound of Music," "When You Wish Upon A Star," and "Somewhere Over The Rainbow." A study at Loyola University in Chicago found that even just playing music could actually ward off dementia in people whose brains are still healthy.

Now, a Los Angeles-based company has created a downloadable program for seniors in assisted care that turns music into medicine. It's called SingFit. The iPad app allows people with dementia to sing and record their favorite songs. Its developers say patients who used SingFit just a few times a week showed a noticeable improvement in cognitive function, as well as mood, focus and quality of life.

Designed by music therapists, SingFit's repertoire includes hits from Tony Bennett, Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole and others. It also includes choreographed movement.

SingFit won the CES Health Innovation Award in the Everyday Health category. So far, the app has been used primarily in senior living facilities, but they are working on a home version.

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