The benefits of music therapy for Alzheimer’s patients are undeniable; all you have to do is check out videos on YouTube of nursing home residents reacting to hearing their favorite music on an iPod. Is there actual research that supports the theory, though?
There is. The American Music Therapy Association (AMTA) has promoted research that studies the effects of music on people with Alzheimer’s disease. Articles have been published in peer-reviewed music therapy journals, such as the Journal of Music Therapy, Music Therapy, and Music Therapy Perspectives, as well as in journals outside the profession.
So what does the research say about music therapy’s benefits for elderly Alzheimer’s patients?
- It reduces depression.
- It can be structured to enhance socio-emotional skills, assist in memory and language skills, and decrease problem behaviors.
- It can be used to assess cognitive ability.
- It can decrease the frequency of agitated and aggressive behaviors.
- Even people in the late stages of dementia respond to and interact with music.
Because music therapy is a nonthreatening, powerful type of sensory stimulation, it provokes responses because of the familiarity, predictability, and feelings of security associated with it. According to the AMTA website, “Music therapy interventions can be designed to promote wellness, manage stress, alleviate pain, enhance memory, improve communication, and provide unique opportunities for interaction.
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