Dr. James Galvin from the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri has written are review on Medscape.

Here are his thoughts on the value of nonpharmacologic strategies in support of drug treatment.

Music therapy

  • It may benefit some patients.
  • In particular, classical music can produce transient increases in cognitive performance (reasoning).
  • Caregiver singing has improved patient well-being.
  • Patients appear to regain skills necessary for activities of daily living.
  • Singing increased patients’ intention, purpose, and competence to perform tasks and improve communication skills.


  • Exercise delays cognitive decline for 24 months and improves memory and frontal lobe functions (voluntary movements).
  • Exercise training plus educating caregivers about behavioral management techniques improves physical health and depression.

Montessori-based programming

  • Positive results, even in those with advanced disease, include more constructive social engagement and enjoyments.
  • Examples of Montessori-based activities used in dementia care include the following:
    • Placing colored golf balls in muffin pans
    • Matching pictures of peoples’ facial expressions to their mood
    • Small group activities such as memory bingo and group sorting

The bottom line?
“It is increasingly evident,” says Dr. Galvin, “that a combination approach is best suited to address patient health and safety.”

    9/18/08 22:10 JR
Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.