Music Therapy and Dementia Research
Music therapy is a treatment that can enhance quality of life, reduce depression and agitation in those living with dementia. More and more organizations are now offering this form of care at all levels – in their homes or services – for these individuals.
Music may help alleviate psychological symptoms such as depression, agitation or aggression and improve quality of life for older adults with dementia living in residential aged care settings. Unfortunately, the evidence for this is currently lacking and requires further study to fill in any gaps.
Music has been found to enhance cognition in various ways, from upbeat tunes that stimulate the brain to rhythm and beat of samba or marching tunes that encourage body movement. Furthermore, music activates parts of the brain responsible for sensorimotor tasks like walking.
Studies have demonstrated that music therapy can be successful at improving verbal and language fluency among patients with dementia. Although it remains uncertain if this improvement is solely due to improved verbal skills or if the lyrics also aid memory formation.
Music therapy has been demonstrated in clinical trials to reduce apathy, agitation and anxiety among patients with dementia. This finding supports previous research which suggests music therapy may be an effective way to alleviate these emotional symptoms for those living with dementia.
Studies have demonstrated that music therapy can significantly enhance quality of life and reduce behavioural problems for those living in residential aged care facilities. This may be attributed to its positive effects on mood, behavioral regulation, social engagement, and stress reduction.
Studies demonstrating the health benefits of music therapy have demonstrated its effects on quality of life. Residents rated their mood and agitation before and after participating in music therapy; furthermore, a study involving a community choir revealed that singing and chanting could effectively relieve anxiety and depression.
Music’s beneficial effects on mood and behavior can be attributed to its capacity for affecting emotions, particularly time and place. This is consistent with the polyvagal theory of mood, which suggests certain aspects of the limbic system may influence emotional reactions to events.
These emotional responses may lead to the activation of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine that regulate emotion and mood regulation. Furthermore, music has been known to improve apathy, agitation and anxiety through its calming chemicals on the brain.
Studies have demonstrated the power of music to alleviate symptoms associated with depression, agitation and apathy in patients with dementia. The efficacy of music may also be due to its activation of specific areas of the brain such as paralimbic area and amygdala – areas thought to be responsible for mood regulation.