Review of the Effect of Music Interventions on Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression in Older Adults With Mild Dementia

D. Petrovsky
P. Z. Cacchione
M. George

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Treatment of anxiety and depression, the most common psychiatric symptoms in older adults with mild dementia, requires innovative approaches due to the high cost and significant side effects associated with traditional pharmacological interventions. Alternative non-pharmacological therapies, such as music, when used in conjunction with pharmacological treatment, have the potential to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression in older adults diagnosed with mild dementia. The purpose of this review was to examine the evidence of music's efficacy in improving symptoms of anxiety and depression in older adults with mild dementia. METHODS: Four databases (Medline, CINAHL, PsychInfo, PubMed) were searched using the terms "music," "music therapy," "music intervention," "singing," "dementia," "anxiety," and/or "depression," identifying ten studies that met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. RESULTS: The poor methodological rigor of the studies precluded reaching consensus on the efficacy of a music intervention in alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression in older adults with mild dementia. CONCLUSIONS: There was inconclusive evidence as to whether music interventions are effective in alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression in older adults with mild dementia due to the poor methodological rigor. However, with improved designs guided by a deeper understanding of how music engages the aging brain, music may emerge as an important adjunct therapy to improving the lives of older adults with mild dementia.