The music and dementia sector is supported by a robust and growing evidence base which is quickly gaining traction. The continually developing research base is effectively demonstrating the range of benefits of music for people living with dementia.
In the 2018 Cochrane Review, Music-based therapeutic interventions for people with dementia, 22 trials were included in the review, and from their results they found music-based treatments improve symptoms of depression and overall behavioural problems, and may also improve anxiety and emotion well-being, including quality of life.
The NICE Older People, Independence and mental wellbeing guidance (2015) recommends that services provided a range of group activities for people living with dementia, ‘including singing programmes and choirs led by professional qualified people’.
The NICE guidance for Dementia: Assessment, Management and Support for People Living with Dementia and Their Carers (2018) point towards ways in which music, and its inherent flexibility to support personalised care, can be helpful for people living with dementia. For example, Guideline 1.7.9 states, ‘for people living with dementia who experience agitation or aggression, offer personalised activities to promote engagement, pleasure and interest’. Guideline 1.11 under the guidelines for Supporting Carers states that carers should be given ‘advice on planning enjoyable and meaningful activities to do with the person they care for, such as how to find psychological therapies’.
There are many ways in which music and music therapy can fulfil these guidelines and the resources and tools on our website can help you to do this. What is exciting for is that further research is likely to have a significant impact on what we know about the effects of music-based interventions for people living with dementia, so continuing research is vital!
There is much to be celebrated in the existing literature, which shows that music can promote a range of hugely beneficial outcomes for people with dementia. Moreover, when used appropriately and in a meaningful way, the use of music has no known negative impacts.
Research gives us hope
Outlined below are some recent research papers. If you would like to add your piece of research to this section, please contact us – firstname.lastname@example.org
- What would life be – without a song or a dance, what are we?’ A report from the Commission on Dementia and Music
- Promoting and prescribing the arts for health
- HOMESIDE: home-based family caregiver-delivered music and reading interventions for people living with dementia: protocol of a randomised controlled trial
- Anglia Ruskin University – Brains work in sync during music therapy – study
- University of Nottingham – Social Return on Investment study, looking at arts activities for older people = positive health & social outcomes, as well as a positive financial return on investment – for every £1 invested, return of £1.20 was generated
- Technology Networks – How Music Activates Our Brain’s Reward Center
- Scientific American – An Hour of Light and Sound a Day Might Keep Alzheimer’s at Bay
- Manchester Camerata, the University of Manchester and HKD Research are piloting new ways of capturing the impact of music projects with older people
- Tuning in to Dementia: Music, Memory and Daily Living
- Live Music Now and the University of Winchester worked in partnership with MHA (Methodist Homes) and The Orders of St John Care Trust to investigate the impact of music on residents, staff and the general care home environment
- World Alzheimer Report 2018 – The state of the art of dementia research: New frontiers
- Led by Professor Stephen Clift, of the Sidney De Haan Research Centre, Live Music Now have conducted a comprehensive literature review of the available evidence that singing and music have direct benefits for older people.
- Individual music therapy for managing neuropsychiatric symptoms for people with dementia and their carers: a cluster randomised controlled feasibility study
- Individual music therapy for agitation in dementia: an exploratory randomized controlled trial.
- The ‘ripple effect’: Towards researching improvisational music therapy in dementia care homes.
- An overview of the music therapy literature relating to elderly people.
- The Effects of Music Therapy Intervention on Agitation Behaviors of Alzheimer’s Disease Patients
- A 3-month, randomized, placebo-controlled, neuroleptic discontinuation study in 100 people with dementia: the neuropsychiatric inventory median cutoff is a predictor of clinical outcome.
- Systematic review of psychological approaches to the management of neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia.
- Music therapy in dementia: A narrative synthesis systematic review
- Music, music therapy and dementia: a review of literature and the recommendations of the Italian Psychogeriatric Association.
- Effects of music therapy on behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
- An overview of the use of music therapy in the context of Alzheimer’s disease: A report of a French expert group