Music Activates Regions of the Brain Spared by Alzheimer’s
University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City
An April 2018 study reports that “objective evidence from brain imaging shows personally meaningful music is an alternative route for communicating with patients who have Alzheimer’s disease.” The research, published by a team at University of Utah Health in Salt Lake City in The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease, demonstrates that familiar music may facilitate attention, reward and motivation, which in turn makes it more possible to manage emotional distress in Alzheimer’s. While the study’s small sample size and single imaging sessions leave room for more research to be done, the findings mark a significant step toward demonstrating how Music & Memory’s personalized music program is a therapeutic mechanism to address measurable improvement in mood, awareness and quality of life for people with dementia.
Music & Memory and Improved Swallowing in Patients with Advanced Dementia
Stony Brook University Hospital
Swallowing, self-feeding and choking issues affect many people with advanced dementia, leading to serious health consequences such as dehydration, malnutrition and weight loss (change of status). This 2018 study, published in conjunction with Dr. Stephen Post of Stony Brook University in Dementia: The International Journal of Social Research and Practice presents data indicating Music & Memory’s personal music intervention improves swallowing in individuals with advanced dementia, making eating easier and potentially diminishing reliance on feeding tubes and PEG intervention. This is a significant finding at a pilot level and is strong enough to warrant further replication. Read more.
Individualized Music Program is Associated with Improved Outcomes for U.S. Nursing Home Residents with Dementia
A 2017 study by Brown University, published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, compares behavioral and psychological resident outcomes before and after implementation of the Music & Memory program. Ninety-eight nursing homes trained in Music & Memory were studied along with 98 matched-pair comparisons for the year 2012-2013. The results show that discontinuation of antipsychotic medications increased in Music & Memory facilities (23.5% to 24.4%), while decreasing among comparison facilities (24.8% to 20.0%). Facilities using Music & Memory also demonstrated increased rates of reduction in behavioral problems (50.9% to 56.5%) versus comparison facilities (55.8% to 55.9%). Implication for practice concluded that “effective, non-medicalized, low-cost interventions such as Music & Memory, are critical to address the needs of the growing ADRD population.” Read more.
An Individualized Music-Based Intervention for Acute Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in Adults with Cognitive Impairment
University of Kansas School of Medicine
Neuropsychiatric symptoms are common features of dementia, and these occur in three fourths of patients on psychogeriatric inpatient units. These symptoms have traditionally been treated with pharmacological agents, but many medications are as likely to harm patients with dementia as to help them. As a result, nonpharmacological interventions are increasingly being investigated as ways to reduce these symptoms. This 2018 study, published by the University of Kansas School of Medicine, concludes that agitation, negative mood, and positive mood all benefited from the music-based intervention, with resulting large effect sizes. These findings indicate that an easily implemented and reproducible music-based intervention, which is well tolerated and without adverse side effects, can be an effective way to reduce neuropsychiatric symptoms associated with dementia on a hospital unit. Read more.
(Compiled by Nina S. Parikh, PhD, MPH, Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging of Hunter College, CUNY)