The Effects of Individualized Music Listening on Affective, Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sundowning Symptoms of Dementia in Long-term Care Residents


Journal of Aging and Health




OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to replicate music's positive effects on dementia-related symptoms, determine whether a 6-month intervention would lead to greater positive outcomes than typical 3- to 4-month interventions, and examine changes in sundowning symptoms after music listening. METHODS: 282 nursing home residents with dementia listened to personalized music playlists 1-3 times weekly for 30 minutes across 6 months. Standardized assessments of affect, behavior, and cognition and direct observations of sundowning symptoms comprised the outcomes. RESULTS: Results documented significant improvements in residents' general neuropsychiatric symptoms, agitation, and depression across the first 3 months, but no additional improvements across the subsequent 3 months. Seven sundowning symptoms significantly improved following music listening, with some (e.g., disengagement) being more amenable to music than others (e.g., aggression). DISCUSSION: Results support short-term individualized music listening as an effective non-pharmacological approach for improving dementia-related symptoms in nursing home residents and suggest new applications of music-related interventions.

Music and Health Institute Terms

Agitation; Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Anxiety; Confusion; Depression; Elderly; Long-Term Care Facility; Mental Health; Music Listening; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Questionnaires; Symptom Management

Indexed Terms

Cognition; Dementia; Long-Term Care; Nursing Homes; agitation; dementia; depression; long-term care residents; personalized music playlists; sundowning symptoms

Study Type

Quasi-Experimental Study; Quantitative Methods

PubMed ID


Document Type