4 Studies that Support Music Therapy for Patients with Dementia and Alzheimer's

Here at The George Center, we often say that music therapy is for people of all ages. There's a common misconception out there that music therapy is strictly for young children. We've written posts about how music therapy can aid teenagers and young adults, but what about older adults?

The music therapy research for dementia and Alzheimer's is fascinating, and full of really cool results that support music therapy as a cost effective way to improve physical, mental, and emotional health.

Here are four studies that support that use of music therapy in persons with dementia and Alzheimer's:


1. Weekly music therapy group participants have significantly lower blood pressure across a 2-year period.

This fascinating 2006 study study blood pressure levels across a two-year period for two groups: a group that received weekly music therapy sessions and a group that did not. The results? The music therapy group had significantly lower blood pressure levels. As we age, our blood pressure tends to increase, which can have adverse effects on our overall health. This research showed that simple weekly group music therapy sessions can have powerful effects on the health of individuals with dementia. Talk about an effective, affordable service!


2. Small group music therapy may reduce depressive symptoms in elderly persons with dementia.

This study examined if reminiscence focused music therapy groups could reduce depression, which is frequently seen in persons with dementia. While done on a small scale, the results indicate that memory and reminiscence based music therapy groups may indeed reduce depressive symptoms.


3. Singing is an effective way to elicit alert responses from individuals with dementia.

This piece of research found that singing, even without instrumental accompaniment, is an effective way to elicit alert responses (changes in facial expression, movement, eye contact) in persons with dementia, even when other stimuli fail to provide a response. This one shows us that singing can and should be used not only by music therapists, but by caregivers as well! Need to brush up your singing voice? Here's a few tips.


4. Music therapy may reduce wandering behavior in persons with dementia.

Individuals with dementia may exhibit wandering behavior. This can increase one's fall risk, which may lead to all sorts of other serious health and safety issues. One on one music therapy interventions have been shown to decrease the amount of wandering in individuals with dementia, as they tend to sit with the therapist for longer periods of time over other interactions.


The health benefits of music therapy for individuals with dementia and Alzheimer's really are endless, and bringing a music therapist to your assisted living facility is easy and affordable. Let's talk about getting a program started at your facility!