Literature Review – Group Music for Individuals with Neurodegenerative Disease

Literature Review – Group Music for Individuals with Neurodegenerative Disease

“Assessment-Based Small-Group Music Therapy Programming for Individuals with Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease: A Multi-Year Clinical Project”

A Review

 

What role does music therapy play in Alzheimer’s and dementia? I’ve seen countless videos of senior residents with headphones on and with it, the comments of the “power of music.” Now, while an Alzheimer’s patient with headphones on is in no way music therapy, it begs the question, “What role does music therapy play in the care of people with dementia?” Three music therapists set out to answer the following:

 

“Does active music-making have distinct benefits from music interventions that only use listening, such as the well-publicized iPod programs? Are small-group and/or individual music therapy sessions more effective for meaningful, functional change than large-group recreational music? Is the specialized work of a board-certified music therapist worth paying for?”

 

There is much research that has come to light in the last 15 years to support the short-term effects of music therapy on mood and behavior, when previously a Cochrane review stated that there was no substantial evidence to support nor discourage music therapy interventions. According to these researchers, the challenge is to justify music therapy as an important program in long-term care facilities.

 

A small group of seven residents was established at a long-term care facility. The group was intentionally limited in order to address individual needs. The first three sessions were used for assessment, using an unpublished assessment from Shenandoah University. Sessions were structured around the scaffolding of skills, and interventions included singing, improvisation, movement, and drumming. Results demonstrated an increase in appropriate and positive social interactions and a decrease in anxiety, expressions of fear and uncertainty, and in perseverations of words and phrases. Movement and cognition even showed improvement during music therapy activities.

 

They conducted this study at more facilities over the next two years, and while the directors and staff were very pleased with the results, none of the programs could continue without grant funding.

 

While I absolutely loved reading this wild success story of music therapy with Alzheimer’s and dementia, I wasn’t all too surprised to read that the program couldn’t continue without grant funding. Many music therapists work under the guise of “recreational therapist” or “activities director” to even be able have access to provide services for this population, and even so, many have too heavy of responsibilities to even be able to treat the way they want to treat. This begs the questions: how do we increase access? How do music therapists prove that what we can offer is valuable enough for long-term facilities to include in their weekly activities schedule? I then think of it in another light…are older adults, whose minds are slowly being taken by this disease that ultimately leads to death, are they still worth investing resources? Money? Time? High-quality, holistic care?

 

I suppose this review has brought out more reflection and questions rather than answers. We all know that no matter how many therapies someone with an illness does, it won’t necessarily make that illness go away. The ultimate end goal is maintaining high quality of life and a sense of purpose and worth for these folks. To me, yes, that is worth the investment.

 

Laurie A Keough, Betsey King, Theresa Lemmerman; Assessment-Based Small-Group Music Therapy Programming for Individuals with Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease: A Multi-Year Clinical Project, Music Therapy Perspectives, Volume 35, Issue 2, 13 November 2017, Pages 182–189, https://doi.org/10.1093/mtp/miw021

 

Melissa Sorensen, LPMT, MT-BC

2 Comments

  • Janice Lindstrom

    Where is the citation for this? I’d like to find it.

    November 26, 2017 at 2:51 pm
    • Hannah Rhinehart

      Hi! Thank you so much for bringing that to our attention. We always want to give credit where it is due! We have remedied it on the blog and copied it below. Thanks, again!

      Laurie A Keough, Betsey King, Theresa Lemmerman; Assessment-Based Small-Group Music Therapy Programming for Individuals with Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease: A Multi-Year Clinical Project, Music Therapy Perspectives, Volume 35, Issue 2, 13 November 2017, Pages 182–189, https://doi.org/10.1093/mtp/miw021

      November 28, 2017 at 9:34 pm