Alzheimer’s disease is marked by an inability to recall certain memories, but new research shows that patients diagnosed with the condition can still remember how those memories made them feel.
In a study published in the journal Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, University of Iowa researchers showed 17 Alzheimer’s patients and 17 healthy patients clips from happy and sad movies.
During the films, all of the study participants expressed signs of sorrow, like crying, and happiness, like laughter. Five minutes later, the individuals with Alzheimer’s couldn’t remember the movies, but they still experienced prolonged feelings of happiness and sadness.
Researchers say the findings are significant because they could impact how caregivers treat Alzheimer’s patients.
“Frequent visits and social interactions, exercise, music, dance, jokes, and serving patients their favorite foods are all simple things that can have a lasting emotional impact on a patient’s quality of life and subjective well-being,” Edmarie Guzmán-Vélez, lead author and a doctoral student in clinical psychology, said in a news release.
Experts predict that Alzheimer’s will impact nearly 16 million Americans by 2050 and cost an estimated $1.2 trillion.