The Role of the Music Therapist in Training Caregivers of People Who Have Advanced Dementia


Laura E. Beer


Nordic Journal of Music Therapy




Music therapy is an evidence-based, non-pharmacological treatment for dementia and the accompanying symptoms of agitation, anxiety, and behavioral issues. Administrators of health care organizations find the modality appealing for its benefits and also for the growing evidence that music therapy is a cost-effective intervention. Music therapists are recognized to be qualified clinicians of a research-supported practice which is particularly effective with clients who have advanced dementia. We are able to access memory, speech, and interactive abilities thought to be destroyed by the disease of dementia. We are, therefore, educationally and clinically adept at creating communications with clients that other professional helpers may struggle to achieve. How we use tone of voice, rhythm and melody, and nuances of gesture are skills that can be taught to fellow caregivers. This article draws upon knowledge gleaned from the author having conducted over 20 enhanced communication trainings with nurses, students, community members, and other caregivers who have an interest in dementia care, and also a study she conducted that showed significance in how this type of training affected caregivers. Here, suggestions are offered to guide music therapists in reimagining their work and designing a format for educating other professionals involved in the care of people with advanced dementia. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Caregivers; Healthcare Professionals; Music Therapy; Neurodegenerative Disorders

Indexed Terms

dementia; training; caregivers; Therapists

Study Type

Editorial, Opinions, Position Papers

Document Type