- Memory and communication issues are common among dementia patients.
- One type of therapy that can be beneficial for those with dementia is music.
- According to a recent study, social interactions between dementia patients and their caregivers may be enhanced by music therapy therapies.
- The results suggest that music therapy may help lessen the stress on caregivers.
The ability to recall, reason, and interact with others are all affected by dementia, a broad spectrum of illnesses. The dementia spectrum of illnesses that affect memory, reasoning, and decision-making is collectively referred to as dementia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
People with dementia may find it more difficult to interact and communicate with others around them as the disease progresses.
Communication and social interaction are two challenges for those with dementia. They may experience some pressure in their interactions with their caretakers as a result of this.
However, a recent study indicated that using a particular type of music therapy improved social interaction among dementia patients and their caregivers. The study was published in Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders. Additionally, the intervention reduced caregiver discomfort.
A neurological disorder called dementia is defined by a decline in cognitive, behavioral, social, and emotional abilities. Although pharmacological therapies are available, they only partially address many of the symptoms of the disease. In addition to drug therapy, music therapy has been suggested in several studies as a potential technique to slow down cognitive loss and behavioral abnormalities brought on by aging.
A non-pharmacological dementia approach is music therapy.
People with dementia may benefit from medication and lifestyle changes to manage their symptoms. Recent studies have also concentrated on non-pharmacological treatments for dementia, such as music therapy.
Music therapy is the practice of utilizing music to enhance mood and advance wellbeing. Additionally, studies into the general effects of music therapy on dementia patients are still being conducted.
Licensed professional counselor and clinical assistant professor at the College of Nursing and Health Professions at Drexel University, Scott Horowitz, a music therapist who was not engaged in the study, explained:
The following are some advantages of music therapy for people with dementia and their loved ones that Dr. Bethany Cook, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and board-certified music therapist, who was not involved in the study, shared:
The best songs to play are those that the person with dementia used to enjoy listening to and singing along to when they were [ages] 7ish to mid-20s, Cook.
Dementia doesn’t appear to be able to completely demolish these enduring memories and songs since they are intertwined in deeper catacombs along winding mountain routes. I’ve seen people who have been married for 65 years not recognize each other, but when I play their wedding song, they turn to each other and start dancing.
How music therapy helps those who have dementia and the caregivers who care for them
This study looked at how music therapy might benefit dementia patients as well as the people who care for them.
Dementia patients were enrolled in the study from two memory care centers. Caregivers actively participated in the interventions as well.
The 12-week musical bridges to memory intervention were used by the researchers. In addition to baseline assessment information on social behaviors and dementia severity, the intervention included a musical preference assessment of dementia patients.
Horowitz clarified that a key element of music therapy is taking into account individual preferences:
“Client-favored music has the most influence. The way that we perceive music is really subjective. As a result, the music that one person finds calming could really be triggering to another person because of the memories they associate with the music.
The intervention includes live 45-minute concerts, caregiver training, and breakout sessions after the concerts. During the concerts, music therapists promoted conversation and supported follow-up in the group discussions. Next, using a neuropsychiatric symptoms questionnaire to measure behaviors and gather comments from caregivers, researchers carried out follow-up examinations.
When compared to the control group, the intervention group exhibited superior nonverbal social behaviors. Participants who had dementia, for instance, showed interest, focus, tranquility, and eye contact with caregivers.
Additionally, caregivers reported feeling less stressed about their loved ones’ illnesses. Additionally, caregivers reported that the training enhanced the quality of their interactions and helped them connect with their loved ones.
Study limitations and future research needs
The study offers proof that music intervention benefits dementia patients as well as their carers. The study did, however, have a few flaws.
The study couldn’t, for instance, be conducted blindly or with randomized individuals. However, using a control group made it easier to assess the outcomes. The fact that the control group only included residents from one of the two memory care institutions could have affected the findings.
The intervention’s long-term consequences were not examined as the trial only lasted 12 weeks. Since the sample size was rather limited, additional information is required before experts can draw broad conclusions.
The authors of the study point out that future studies might benefit from rating scales that are more focused on musical bridges to memory. They also note that baseline levels of antisocial behaviors like aggressiveness were low in persons with dementia. Finally, the study did not evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention in light of the patient’s dementia etiology.
As this study demonstrates, music therapy is a crucial component of dementia and memory care. It should be viewed as fundamental and primary in the care of elderly people rather than adjunctive or secondary. In certain respects, it provides something that no other form of treatment can, making it crucial.
There are around 50 million dementia patients globally, and by 2050, that number is expected to nearly treble. The term “dementia” refers to a group of illnesses and ailments that gradually impact cognitive abilities such as memory and language as well as behavioral abilities such as depression and anxiety. Different therapeutic strategies, both pharmacological and non-pharmacological, have been tested to reduce dementia symptoms.
- People with dementia who are suffering from impaired cognitive function can benefit from music therapy.
- The most effective intervention for persons with dementia is music listening, followed by singing.
- People with dementia reported a higher quality of life after receiving music therapy.
- Dementia-related depressive symptoms are ameliorated over time by music.