Written by: Molli Smith, MT Intern.
During my internship thus far, I have gotten the opportunity to work with multiple groups of older adults with dementia. Because I have not had as much hands-on experience with this population during my undergrad clinical work as a music therapy student at Queens University of Charlotte, I wanted to explore research studies that have examined the benefits of music therapy for older adults to gain more insight. In my search, I found a study that was conducted in August of 2022 - just a mere 7 months ago. With this study, Leticia Prieto Álvarez, PhD, MT-BC, LMHC examined the effects of Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) on treatment acceptability, cognition, mood, and behavior of older adults with dementia in comparison to participation in an Enrichment Program (combination of mental and physical exercises) and a non-facilitated television program.
While facilitating the music therapy, about seven to nine different NMT techniques were used in each session. To highlight some of the techniques that were used to target sensorimotor skills, speech and language, and cognition, here are a list of a few examples:
Participants were residents of an assisted living community that had been diagnosed with moderately severe to severe Alzeihmer’s Disease or related dementia. They were placed into three groups and attended each type of intervention four times a week. Results indicated that the average participants’ acceptance of treatment and completion of full treatment sessions were higher in NMT than compared to the enrichment and television programs. During implementation, several residents left their assigned intervention and chose to attend NMT instead (86% of the time) whereas no residents left NMT to attend a different intervention. Participation in NMT resulted in higher scores of positive mood, followed by the enrichment program, and then television. Researchers also found that NMT had a larger effect on cognitive functioning, receiving higher scores across five of the seven cognitive subdomains.
I have seen numerous positive impacts for older adults with dementia from my own clinical work, but never had an opportunity to look into differences among other provided programs. Reading about the results of this study was very interesting. Not only did this research study provide me with further validation of why the work we do with this population is so beneficial, but it is a great resource in advocating for more implementation of music therapy programs in assisted living communities.
To read the full article, visit this link.
How have you seen music therapy benefit older adults with dementia?
Providing music therapy services for early childhood to older adults, music instruction and enrichment plus continuing music therapy education in Greater Charlotte Area of the Carolinas.