Neurologic Music Therapy With a Habilitative Approach for Older Adults With Dementia: A Feasibility Study


Music Therapy Perspectives




The incidence of dementia continues to increase in our aging population. Numerous cognitive, behavioral, and psychological symptoms accompany this diagnosis, and the need for non-pharmacological interventions that may alleviate them is of paramount importance. This feasibility study presents the results of a crossover randomized control trial that evaluated the effects of neurologic music therapy with a habilitative approach on the treatment acceptability, cognition, mood, and behavior of older adults with moderate to severe dementia. Twenty-nine residents living in an assisted living community rotated between 50-minute group sessions of Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) techniques implemented with a habilitative approach, an Enrichment Program (EP) that combined physical and cognitive exercises, and a non-facilitated television program (TV). Data were collected before and after each crossover period using attendance, the Neuropsychiatric Inventory-Nursing Home (NPI-NH) version, the Dementia Mood Picture Test (DMPT), and the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA). NMT had the highest level of treatment acceptability, as measured by attendance and adherence. NPI-NH scores were the lowest after TV viewings, and DMPT results were the highest after NMT, followed by EP and TV. The positive effect of NMT on general cognitive functioning for residents with moderately severe cognitive decline was remarkable. These results suggest that NMT with a habilitative approach is a viable tool to engage older adults with dementia. The promising results on cognition and its high treatment acceptability make a powerful case to increase NMT use with this population and continue studying its effectiveness. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)

Music and Health Institute Terms

Alzheimer's and Related Dementias; Behavioral State; Cognitive Abilities; Depression; Elderly; Engagement Level; Mood; Music Therapy; Neurodegenerative Disorders; Physical Exercise; Symptom Management

Indexed Terms

dementia; cognition; mood; Emotional States; Habilitation; Behavior; Geriatric Patients; Clinical Neuroscience

Study Type

Randomized Controlled; Trial; Quantitative Methods

Document Type