Music Compared With Auditory Books: A Randomized Controlled Study Among Long-term Care Residents With Alzheimer's Disease or Related Dementia

T. C. Harrison
S. A. Blozis
B. Schmidt
A. Johnson
R. Moreno
S. Mead
M. Gayle


BACKGROUND: Over 5 million Americans age 65 years and older were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and/or related dementia (ADRD), a majority of whom exhibit behavioral and psychological symptoms leading to placement in long-term care settings. These facilities need nonmedical interventions, and music-based programs have received supportive evidence. SETTING: Thirteen long-term care facilities were among a wave of facilities that volunteered to be trained and to administer a music-based intervention. The residents within were randomized into intervention or control groups (intervention/music, n = 103; control/audiobook, n = 55). DESIGN: This team used a pragmatic trial to randomly embed music and control (audiobooks) into 13 long-term care facilities to compare the effects on agitation in people with ADRD. METHODS: Measures included a demographic survey; the Mini-Mental Status Examination, used to assess cognitive status; and the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory with 4 subscales, used to measure agitation. These measures were implemented at baseline and every 2 weeks for 8 weeks. Mixed-effects models were used to evaluate change in agitation measures while addressing dependencies of scores within participants and facility. RESULTS: Decreases in agitation were attributable to both music and audiobooks in 3 of 4 agitation subscales. In the fourth, physical agitation, which was not directed toward staff, initially, it decreased given music, and increased thereafter; and generally, it increased with the audiobooks. CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS: Both music and control audiobooks delivered by headphones after personalized selection reduced some aspects of agitation in residents diagnosed with ADRD. The effects of music were greater initially then diminished.