Use of Music Therapy to Improve Cognition in Older Adults With Dementia: An Integrative Review


Research and Theory for Nursing Practice




BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Dementia is considered a public health priority due to physical, psychological, economic, and social repercussions in older adults, their families, and caregivers. To address this issue, healthcare providers can use music therapy as a complementary therapy. This manuscript was elaborated to analyze and synthesize the current evidence of the use of music therapy to improve cognition in older adults with dementia. METHODS: Using the Whittemore and Knafl (2005) method, databases searched were PubMed, CINAHL, Ovid, EBSCO, ProQuest, and PsycINFO, using the terms such as "Music Therapy," "Acoustic Stimulation," "Music," "Cognition," "Memory," "Attention," "Aged," and "Dementia." Studies that met the eligibility criteria were screened by title, abstract and full text. Quality of the studies were evaluated using critical appraisal tools and Cochrane "Risk of Bias" tool. RESULTS: A total of 211 articles were screened by title and abstract, but only 28 articles met the inclusion criteria and were full text screened. Of the 28 articles, only five studies were analyzed and synthesized as they focused specifically on music therapy and cognition. Three of the studies showed that active and active-passive approaches of music therapy produce significant effect on cognition in older adults with dementia. The common characteristic was the participation of music therapists or music teachers who delivered the music therapy sessions that resulted in improved cognition. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: As a safe, inexpensive intervention, it should be considered as a complementary therapy to positively impact cognition in older adults with different types of dementia and levels of severity.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Cognitive Abilities; Elderly; Memory; Music Therapy; Neurodegenerative Disorders

Indexed Terms

Elderly; Cognition Disorders; Dementia; cognition; cognitive; dementia

Study Type

Integrative Review; Quantitative Methods

PubMed ID


Document Type