I just ran across a great article in Nursing Times published in the UK. This study looked at the efficacy of group music therapy to reduce agitation in people with dementia. The literature review revealed music therapy is effective for use with people in all stages of dementia. The best results were achieved when a qualified (board-certified) music therapist provided live, familiar music therapy sessions of intervention 2-3 times per week for 30 to 50 minutes.

The article describes agitation as, “a behavioral problem that causes distress to all involved, so finding successful interventions is important so holistic care can be provided.” A lack of non-pharmacological strategies to address agitation is noted.

Since people with dementia tend to become socially isolated due to reduction in language skills, music therapy can reduce anxiety and distress by providing opportunity for nonverbal as well as verbal expression, increased social interaction and stimulation of cognition.

What did the music therapy session look like?
Live, familiar music
Singing
Movement to music
Music making, including small percussion play
Source: Nursing Times, August 6, 2014 Vol. 110 No 32/33 Article by Jacqueline Craig