Music can improve mood and behavior for people with dementia

People with dementia showed positive changes in mood and behavior after listening to music, according to a study from researchers at George Mason University.

A documentary titled “Alive Inside” showed individuals with moderate to late stage dementia listening to personalized music with headphones. The listeners often sang along and became more talkative, showing a great improvement in mood, and decreased agitation.

The study involved 51 adults with dementia. An individualized playlist was developed for each participant. Study researchers recorded both within-person differences and between-group differences.

Behavioral observations showed increases in joy, eye contact and movement, communicating and talking. There was less restless moving, agitation, and sleeping. Participants smiled more, and were more alert and relaxed. Sometimes they recognized the music, sang, and followed the rhythm.

Music listening can be especially beneficial when the music is connected to positive memories for the listener. The music can be used in a variety of care situations, including at home. Music can be helpful to happily occupy a dementia sufferer when a caregiver needs to attend to other duties.

The study showed that music listening is a low cost, nonpharmacological intervention that can bring positive results for people with dementia.


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