Relaxing Music at Mealtime in Nursing Homes: Effects on Agitated Patients With Dementia

S. L. Hicks-Moore


Agitation in individuals with severe cognitive impairment is a significant problem that affects care and overall quality of life. Building on research conducted by Goddaer and Abraham (1994), this quasi-experimental study proposed that relaxing music played during meals would exert a calming effect and decrease agitated behaviors among nursing home residents with dementia. Thirty residents residing in a Special Care Unit participated in the 4-week study. The Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (Cohen-Mansfield, Marx, & Rosenthal, 1989) was used to gather data. Baseline data was obtained in Week 1 (no music). Music was introduced in Week 2, removed in Week 3, and reintroduced in Week 4. At the end of the 4-week study, overall reductions in the cumulative incidence of total agitated behaviors were observed. Reductions in absolute numbers of agitated behaviors were achieved during the weeks with music and a distinct pattern was observed.