Here is an link to an article on the subject appearing in the Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Disease e-newsletter:
Although I personally believe the power of music is best demonstrated through live performance, with human contact, eye contact and smiles thrown in for good measure, there are limits to bringing live performance into facilities or into private homes for that matter (and there are only so many hours a live singer can perform!) So, using the very personalized music that brings good memories to an individual via an mp3 player, such as an iPod, is a wonderful, resilient, untiring good substitute to help fill the empty 90% of time spent idle.
And, as a great side benefit, caregivers can use the device to explore using relaxation, stress-reduction and visualization/meditation tracks or streamed music to help them cope with the daily challenges and stress that caregiving almost always entails. Music is indeed a powerful healing force!
And I was excited to hear of a new concept for a choir, formed in Minnesota, which brings those with early Alzheimer's or cognitive impairment and their care partners together to sing. The project, called Giving Voice Chorus, brings the joy of singing, social interaction, a sense of purpose and accomplishment and just plain fun together for participants. What a fabulous idea! Here's a short video presentation by the founders: