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Does Music Therapy Improve Anxiety And Depression In Alzheimer’s Patients

Learn More About Music Therapy For Alzheimer’s Patients

Final/Music therapy for patients with dementia/Alzheimers disease

Music is a wonderful, research-backed tool that can enhance the quality of life for those living with dementia. It can improve emotional and physical health while offering a new way for the person to interact with the world around them.

Learn more about music and its use in the senior population by watching our webinar, The Power of Music Therapy. Host Melissa Lee connects with licensed and nationally board-certified music therapists Allison Lockhart and Hannah Rhinehart from The George Center Foundation to examine what we know about the connection between music and memory.

Music Therapy Aids Healing In The Elderly

One of the incredible ways that music therapy is being used in certain settings is to improve healing and reduce anxiety in older adults prior to undergoing tests or procedures. Studies have shown that music therapy can successfully lower anxiety in seniors who undergo cardiac procedures and it also helps those who have undergone surgery or invasive diagnostic procedures to relax.

It has been suggested that music can also positively modify the release of stress hormones, and this can be beneficial for respiratory, neurological, cardiac, and even the immune functions that are involved in healing.

Getting The Right Care For Your Loved One

The many benefits of music therapy can change the quality of life for someone suffering from Alzheimers. As its a disease that cant touch a persons love and appreciation for music. Music therapy can help improve their mood, movement, memory, and connections with others.

Arbors of Ohio specializes in innovative, restorative, and comfortable techniques for those suffering from Alzheimers. Learn more about how their professional care programs can help your loved one.

Also Check: Does Medicare Cover Nursing Home Care For Dementia

How Do You Do Music Therapy

Music therapists have different ways of using music to help with symptoms. Examples of the different techniques used in therapy sessions are as follows:1,3,6

  • Listening to music using headphones to pay attention to familiar music.
  • Singing songs singing familiar songs .
  • Music-based intervention using elements of music, like rhythm or beats, to help memory.
  • Background music music is passively played in the room.
  • Music with activities listening to music while singing or dancing.
  • Multisensory stimulation music is combined with another brain stimulus such as painting or gardening.

What A Music Therapist Does

Soothing dementia patients through music

A music therapist is trained to use music as a tool to help participants meet their wellness goals, which include the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of those they serve. In order for them to develop a treatment plan, they will begin with an assessment to learn more about the participants medical history, personal history, preferences, and challenges. Then, they will develop a plan of care that details music interventions that will help the participant work toward those goals.

Music therapists use a variety of interventions with participants, including sing-a-long sessions, breathing exercises, drumming, and other movements set to music. They can even play music for the participant, which is something you see often with those living with dementia, especially in the later stages of the disease. For example, it is common for music therapists to be on the staff of hospice organizations, arriving to play the harp or other instrument for seniors who receive hospice care.

Recommended Reading: Senile Vs Dementia

Music And Memory Program

Since 2017, Long Island Alzheimer’s and Dementia Centers Music and Memory Program has offered hope to those impacted by dementia and caregivers. The programs growth and extraordinary results have earned Long Island Alzheimer’s and Dementia Center the 2018 Imagine Award for Innovation. Our Music and Memory program is available to all caregivers and diagnosed individuals.

What If I Cant Find A Music Therapist

True music therapy uses a trained therapist. But there are many ways to add music to your daily life! If your loved one has Alzheimers disease, see if music improves their mood.

First, help them choose music that is special to them. Perhaps they listened to country music as a child. Try playing familiar country songs at a low volume. Maybe add in dancing or singing, too.

Some online music sites have commercials between songs. Commercials may confuse your loved one so try choosing music with no interruptions. Playing music at home may not be true music therapy, but listening to music can be fun and calming.

Read Also: Senility Vs Dementia Vs Alzheimer’s

How To Get Started With Music Therapy

You dont need to be a professional musician to take advantage of music therapy tools. Anyone can implement music therapy elements in their everyday lives, but formal intervention requires a certified music therapist. Music therapists work in hospitals, mental health centers, senior centers, nursing homes, hospice programs, schools, and more.;

You can find a certified music therapist through the American Music Therapy Association Online Directory.

Tips For Using Music To Help People With Dementia

The benefits of music for dementia patients

According to the Alzheimers Association, music can ease the distress caused by Alzheimers . Music can help people engage with their environment, even after severe cognitive decline.

When using music to help people with dementia, the Alzheimers Association recommends the following strategies:

  • Choose music that is familiar to the person, or that they once enjoyed. If the person is able, allow them to select their own music.
  • Avoid sensory overload and confusion. Commercials interrupting music can cause stress. So too can ambient noise. Turn off other electronics and close the windows. Make sure the music isnt too loud.
  • Use music to set the mood. A calming piece of music may help someone with anxiety. An energetic piece can enliven the spirits of a person who feels depressed.
  • Encourage the person to actively take part in the music by dancing, clapping, or drumming.

People who are affected by dementia, whether directly or indirectly, may wish to;get help from a therapist.


  • Music activates regions of the brain spared by Alzheimers disease. . ScienceDaily. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180428145111.htm
  • Music, art and Alzheimers. . Alzheimers Association. Retrieved from https://www.alz.org/care/alzheimers-dementia-music-art-therapy.asp
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    What Is Music Therapy For Alzheimers Disease

    Certainly, music therapy for older adults suffering from Alzheimers disease can differ significantly from person to person. In fact, it is the desired effect of the therapy that changes as circumstances change.

    For instance, someone suffering from a physical injury, like a broken leg, may find music therapy to be soothing and healing, and aid in a quicker recovery through a music therapy technique called gait training, which uses music to motivate patients and assists with their movement.

    Someone who experiences chronic pain, on the other hand, might derive welcome relief from their pain through the benefits of music therapy.

    Overall, a therapist will design a tailored care plan based on the individuals needs. As for patients who have Alzheimers and dementia, music can help them reduce depression, enhance memory, and improve social interaction.

    Music therapists are professionals with university educations and certifications. They study the field and publish their findings to ensure patients receive the best music therapy care.

    According to the American Music Therapy Association, music therapy is an evidence-based, as well as clinical-based, use of music intervention that is used to reach a range of individualized goals within a therapeutic setting with a professional music therapist. The Association stresses that music therapy can:

    • Alleviate pain
    • Promote motor functioning

    Music Therapy Reduces Symptoms Of Anxiety And Depression Among Persons With Dementia According To A Review Of Several Studies

    People suffering dementia are often troubled further by anxiety and depression. It is not known whether the depression is triggered because the disease alters the brain or because of the burden of not being considered sound mind by the people around.

    ScienceNordics partner forskning.no has previously written about smaller, Norwegian studies at the Norwegian Academy of Music showing a reduction in depression and anxiety among demented persons when they heard music from their childhood, adolescence and the life they had before being stricken.;

    Researchers at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health have now participated in a systematic study of the effect of music therapy for persons with dementia. They evaluated 17 studies of such measures.

    All 620 persons in the studies were residents in institutions.

    Better than other types of treatment

    The researchers compared music-based therapeutic interventions with the effect of other activities such as reading groups, working on puzzles, food preparation and other cognitive exercises.;

    The 17 studies assessed by the researchers indicate that music therapy does tend to help demented persons with depression and anxiety.;

    It also appears to help reduce behavioural problems and make demented people more cognitive and able to grasp a little more knowledge.

    However, music therapy was not seen by the researchers to have an effect on reducing aggressive behaviour.

    No special education required


    Also Check: How To Move A Parent With Dementia To Assisted Living

    Search Strategy And Selection Criteria

    A systematic review was conducted following the recommendations of the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses . An independent literature search was conducted across Medline, PubMed Central, Embase, PsycINFO, and Cochrane library databases. We carried out the systematic review of the literature following a series of criteria as detailed below.

    Figure 1. Flow of studies through the review process for systematic review and meta-analysis.

    Initially, the search began with the terms brain and music. Later, dementia was added, and finally, clinical trial was included. The search period used was from 1990 to present. Next, a more in-depth study of selected trials was carried out. Duplicate studies were removed. All studies that compared any form and method of musical intervention with an intervention without music were evaluated. Lastly, those studies that were systematic analysis, reviews, and study protocols and those which do not evaluate cognitive function were excluded. All the trials chosen were designed as randomized controlled trials .

    Effect Of Music Therapy On Anxiety And Depression In Patients With Alzheimers Type Dementia: Randomised Controlled Study

    Music Therapy for Dementia Patients

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    Read Also: Difference Between Dementia And Senility

    Is There A Therapeutic Connection Between Music And Dementia

    Some of the leading research suggests there is a strong positive connection between dementia and music. For instance, an article published by Harvard Health clearly shows a correlation of how music can boost memory and mood. According to the article, music has a way of reactivating parts of the brain associated with emotions, memory, reward, reasoning, and speech and can open the memory vault of your loved one impacted by dementia.

    Select Songs Of Their Time

    It can be helpful to choose music that they enjoyed listening to during positive times in their life. These can be childhood favorites or hit songs that may evoke positive memories.

    You also want to take into account;the patients history with music. This includes whether they ever played an instrument or if they had a favorite singer or musical that they enjoy.

    Also Check: Difference Between Senility And Dementia

    Music As A Wondrous Tool

    Music really is extremely versatile. It can also be used to foster a certain mood or mindset. For example, faster-paced music might encourage your loved on to dance, sway, tap their toes, and clap their hands.

    However, slower-paced music tends to have a sedative effect that will calm and soothe especially good for patients who get agitated by their surroundings and situation.

    In the right setting, and along with daily activities, the perfect background tunes can help to guide responses and behaviors.

    Since the effect of music is far-reaching, even unfamiliar music can be played to seniors and it will also play a vital role. New songs can help to develop beneficial responses, like cognitive stimulation and stress management, or even to encourage sleep.

    Music can also be used during physical therapy and exercise sessions to promote the seniors concentration and sense of balance.

    When older adults who are in the advanced stages of Alzheimers and dementia grow overwhelmed and frustrated by their inability to communicate, as well as growing agitated with their environment, music can be a valuable tool.

    Soothing, gentle music helps to calm their aggravation and refocus their unfavorable behavior into a more positive energy or behavior.

    Even during the later stages of the disease, whenmost human interaction has ceased, the elderly can still connect with music. Listening to music with your loved one creates wonderful opportunities for connection.

    Music May Ease The Anxiety Of Alzheimers

    Music Therapy and Dementia Presentation

    May 17, 2018

    More good news on the music and Alzheimers front. Researchers report that music activates parts of the brain spared by Alzheimers disease and may be a good way to help ease the anxiety and agitation of the disease.

    The researchers, from the University of Utah Health, found that music caused unique activation of a part of the brain known as the salience network, an area of the brain that makes music particularly moving and emotional. This part of the brain is also largely spared from the brain damage that occurs with Alzheimers disease.

    People with dementia are confronted by a world that is unfamiliar to them, which causes disorientation and anxiety, said study author Dr. Jeffrey Anderson, an associate professor in radiology at the University of Utah. We believe music will tap into the salience network of the brain that is still relatively functioning.

    The researchers say that music-based therapies may help to ease many of the behavioral symptoms of Alzheimers, including agitation, anxiety, and depression, that can make life with the disease difficult and a special challenge for caregivers. The findings were published in The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimers Disease.

    Over a three week period, the researchers then trained those with Alzheimers and their caregivers on how to play a personalized playlist of music using a portable media player.

    Read Also: Senile Dementia Of The Alzheimer Type

    Benefits Of Music Therapy For Alzheimer’s Patients

    The American Music Therapy Association defines music therapy as the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program. Music therapy is used for a variety of special populations, including those living with Alzheimers disease or another type of dementia. Music can be used as a tool to give seniors a wide array of therapeutic benefits.

    It Can Improve Mood And The Immune System

    Music therapy can be used as an instant mood booster. While you might not see a music therapist specifically, you have likely experienced the jolt of happiness that comes when you listen to a favorite song or a sense of comfort that arrives when you hear a song that your grandmother once sang to you. Adults with dementia can also experience these same feelings, giving them relief from anxiety and depression that often accompanies the disease.

    In addition, singing along to songs can increase lung capacity as well as give a boost of oxygen to the brain. Singing and music interventions can even improve immune response.

    Also Check: What Is The Difference Between Dementia And Senility

    Music In Middle Stage Alzheimers

    Some people in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s can continue to play the piano well, and benefit from it. Others may become frustrated when they forget the chord or can’t read the music.

    In the middle stages, when behaviors can sometimes be challenging, music is an often-effective way to distract someone. A nurse aide that we know, for example, almost always sings a song with the person she’s helping while they walk together. The person walks farther because he’s singing along, and has a more enjoyable time getting his daily exercises accomplished.

    Music may also be beneficial to mood and sleep patterns for people with Alzheimer’s. A study published in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine was conducted with 20 male residents who had a diagnosis of probable Alzheimer’s at a nursing home.

    These men participated in music therapy five times a week for four weeks. Following the four weeks, their melatonin levels were tested and had significantly increasedand remained elevated even six weeks after the conclusion of the music therapy programming.

    Therapists also noted that the men demonstrated an improved ability to learn the songs and lyrics, increased social interaction, and a more relaxed and calm mood.

    Music Therapy In The Treatment Of Dementia: A Systematic Review And Meta

    Music Therapy Clinic
    • 1Department of Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Biochemistry, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Toledo, Spain
    • 2School of Nursing and Physiotherapy, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Toledo, Spain
    • 3Regional Centre for Biomedical Research, University of Castilla-La Mancha, Albacete, Spain

    Background: Dementia is a neurological condition characterized by deterioration in cognitive, behavioral, social, and emotional functions. Pharmacological interventions are available but have limited effect in treating many of the disease’s features. Several studies have proposed therapy with music as a possible strategy to slow down cognitive decline and behavioral changes associated with aging in combination with the pharmacological therapy.

    Objective: We performed a systematic review and subsequent meta-analysis to check whether the application of music therapy in people living with dementia has an effect on cognitive function, quality of life, and/or depressive state.

    Methods: The databases used were Medline, PubMed Central, Embase, PsycINFO, and the Cochrane Library. The search was made up of all the literature until present. For the search, key terms, such as music,brain,dementia, or clinical trial, were used.

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