Music Therapy for Dementia
Music therapy in dementia care is an emerging field with evidence suggesting it may be beneficial for those with behavioral issues. Furthermore, this non-pharmacological approach could potentially reduce side effects and costs associated with medication administration.
Dementia is a chronic illness that causes profound emotional and mental changes in someone’s behavior. It’s an overwhelming experience that often leaves sufferers feeling depressed, anxious and confused.
Music has long been known to help soothe people’s worries and reduce tension. Whether it be soothing classical music, dancing or singing, music can be an effective tool in helping your loved one cope with stress.
Music therapy is a non-pharmacological intervention that can assist with various aspects of cognitive, emotional and behavioral health for those suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. It has also been known to improve quality of life for individuals living with dementia as well as their families.
Due to the limited effectiveness and potential side effects of psychotropic medications, non-pharmacological treatments for neuropsychiatric symptoms in dementia are becoming more popular. Studies have demonstrated that music interventions can be successful at relieving depression symptoms and improving quality of life while decreasing the need for psychotropic medication usage.
Music’s impact on the brain is thought to be due to its capacity for memory evocation. It also promotes reminiscence and social connection, which may help people recall their past lives.
Music-based treatments have proven to be a beneficial resource for caregivers, with studies demonstrating their effectiveness in relieving symptoms of depression, anxiety and agitation in dementia patients. Furthermore, it helps people regain their sense of identity and control over their life.
In this study, we evaluated a group music program for adults with dementia. This was tailored to meet the psychosocial needs of residents in the moment and included familiar song singing, improvisation on percussion instruments and music-stimulated reminiscence.
Participants were recruited in the facility through referrals from residents, staff and family members. The sample consisted of individuals whose diagnoses ranged from early-stage dementia to advanced stages.
At each session, we used power-point slides to prompt residents and show pictures and videos. These were created with the purpose of encouraging participants to share their own personal memories while moving along with the music.
These slides were highly successful in encouraging social interactions and the formation of new relationships during booster sessions. Participants reported feeling they had made lasting friendships and connections through these group settings.
The group music program was highly valued for its social, engaging, personal and emotional elements. These capacities are essential elements in any successful music-based intervention and this research suggests they should be taken into account when researching future studies on music therapy for individuals with dementia.
Understanding the meaning behind behaviors in dementia can inform behavioral and pharmacological treatments for the condition. Classifying these behaviors also allows us to pinpoint the most significant causes behind each behavior and devise strategies to mitigate those factors.