Impact of Music Therapy on Dementia Behaviors: A Literature Review


The Consultant Pharmacist




Worldwide, dementia is the most important contributor to disability in elderly patients. Treating patients with dementia can be challenging for clinicians because of the numerous behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). The Dementia Action Alliance and American Geriatrics Society Beers criteria promote nonpharmacological and behavioral treatments as first-line therapy to manage BPSD to avoid adverse events associated with antipsychotic medications. Some of the nonpharmacologic therapies proposed for BPSD include: music therapy (MT), light therapy, acupressure, aromatherapy, massage, and animal-assisted therapy. However, several are supported with only limited literature findings. Among these, MT has the most substantial data. MT has demonstrated benefit throughout mild-severe stages of dementia. The extended impact is attributed to associated brain pathology. MT's mode of delivery is essential to the evidencebased use of music interventions and delivery methods. The literature citations show that adequately trained individuals should ideally conduct several forms of MT to obtain optimal benefit. There are several studies investigating the impact of the various forms of MT on alleviating BPSD. Among the numerous reviewed studies, six trials and three meta-analyses were included in this article. While the literature conflicts, MT is noninvasive, poses little to no risk to patients, requires minimal training, and offers large potential for implementation in the patient-care setting. In addition, MT can have an important role in fostering student pharmacist development, because an emphasis on the aging demographic is becoming increasingly important.

Music and Health Institute Terms

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

Indexed Terms

Elderly; Antipsychotic Agents; Complementary Therapies; Dementia; Professional Role; Students, Pharmacy

Study Type

Systematic Review; Quantitative Methods

PubMed ID


Document Type