Communicating Through Caregiver Singing During Morning Care Situations in Dementia Care


Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences




It is well known that persons with dementia (PWD) have problems expressing and interpreting communication, making interaction with others difficult. Interaction between PWD and their caregivers is crucial, and several strategies have been investigated to facilitate communication during caregiving. Music therapeutic caregiving (MTC)--when caregivers sing for or together with PWD during caregiving activities--has been shown to enhance communication for PWD, evoking more vitality and positive emotions. The aim of this study was to describe how PWD and their caregivers express verbal and nonverbal communication and make eye contact during the care activity 'getting dressed', during morning care situations without and with MTC. Findings revealed that during the situations without MTC, the caregivers led the dressing procedure with verbal instructions and body movements and seldom invited the PWD to communicate or participate in getting dressed. Patterns in responses to caregivers' instructions included both active and compliant responses and reactions that were resistant and aggressive, confused, and disruptive. In contrast to the 'ordinary' morning care situation, during MTC, the caregivers seemed interested in communicating with the PWD and solicited their mutual engagement. Although verbal communication consisted of singing about things other than getting dressed, e.g. dancing, love, sailing, God, the PWD mostly responded to caregivers in a composed manner, by being active, compliant, and relaxed, though some were also resistant or incongruent. The authors conclude that MTC could be a way for PWD and their caregivers to successfully interact and co-operate during caring situations, as it seems to evoke enhanced communication for both partners in this context.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Caregivers; Confusion; Emotional Functioning; Engagement Level; Interpersonal Relations; Music Therapy; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Recreative Music Methods; Singing a Song

Indexed Terms

Caregivers; Communication; Dementia; Sweden

Study Type

Case Study; Qualitative Methods

PubMed ID


Document Type