Caregivers have observed for decades that Alzheimer’s patients, for instance can still remember and sing songs long after they have stopped recognizing names and faces. Many hospitals and nursing homes and assisted living communities use music as recreation, since it brings pleasure to the participants. But beyond the entertainment value, there’s growing evidence that listening to music can also help stimulate seemingly lost memories and even help restore some cognitive function. Tests have been done through the New York State Department of Health, where 45 patients with varying degrees of dementia showed improvement in their cognitive-function scores by 50% on average. If there were more certified music therapists, and I understand there are only 7,000 in the U.S. and a small percentage work with the senior population, there might be more research and studies in the future.
Great question Lori. I got some good information out of this and I plan to research it some more. Guy Andrews with ExerciseEtc. has a lot of experience with aging population and exercise:
He might be able to provide you with more research regarding your question.
I hope this helps.