The article in the Nursing Times (Nursing Practice-review; had such great information about music therapy and agitation in patients with dementia, I just had to share more about what the researchers found.

The article outlines 4 key points (slightly changed to reflect U.S. figures):

1. There are over 5 million people in the United States with some form of dementia. This is a huge health care issue.
2. Non-pharmacological interventions for agitation in dementia include Music Therapy (delivered by a board-certified music therapist)
3. Group Music Therapy sessions can increase emotional well being and reduce agitation.
4. Music Therapy is best delivered individually or in group settings by TRAINED THERAPISTS (emphasis mine).

The article makes the following recommendations with regard to Music Therapy intervention with patients with dementia:

1. Care homes and day care units should implement a group Music Therapy intervention program to reduce agitation and other behavior disturbances in patients with dementia.
2. Music Therapy interventions should be delivered by TRAINED Music Therapists at least 2 times a week for 30 minutes.

The article concludes, “The Department of Health has called for purposeful and therapeutic activities to improve quality of life for people with dementia. Group music therapy is successful in reducing agitation if is it conducted regularly, with familiar music proving to yield the best results in research. Group intervention is a feasible solution in the care setting to improve the wellbeing of those with dementia.”

Finally, the article recognizes that while staff members may recognize the need for Music Therapy, only qualified Music Therapists should conduct the group sessions. “The lack of formal Music Therapy training may account for negative results for interventions in some research studies.”