Music therapy for Dementia

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30 Jun 2016 - General

Elder care is something I have always been associated to professionally. Degenerative conditions like Dementia and Alzheimer’s need a very specific approach.

Early intervention is the key for long term management of the condition. Being a degenerative condition patients starting from basic memory loss move on to communication difficulty as they start forgetting languages and gradually reach a stage were they forget learned behaviors as well. When I mention learnt behaviors these are activities of daily living like brushing teeth, bathing, eating etc. No doubt these activities of daily living are important and we strive to manage the patient in a way that they continue with most of these activities for maximum period of time.

One of the early intervention technique we have been using with a number of patients is: Music therapy. We have been associating one particular music track with each activity of daily living, for e.g. every time while brushing teeth same piano track is been played everyday, from the very day of diagnosis. In long run its been observed that patient associates the music with the activity and thus continues to do the same independently with less anxiety. Similarly other activity particularly eating is conditioned with their favorite song.

Along with health management, as a team we continuously keep making attempts to keep them happy as after a particular stage all they remember is the happy feeling, of course even the feeling last for a short while but it helps in easing the caregivers work.

Would insist of having trained caregivers of them with psycho-educating the family members as well.

Thank you for your reply. Now, I understand it much better. The music therapy should actually be used since the early stage and is continually use until dementia advances. It wouldn't be applicable or won't be effective if it is used at a later stage of their journey, right? I will be sharing this with my friend who is a dementia specialist, she might know this already but still worth trying. Also, it would be nice for care providers (professionals/ relatives) to know more about music th...
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Happy to answer. Music therapy has shown great results with Alzheimer’s, Dementia with Lewy bodies and fronto-temporal dementia. More specifically because the therapy needs to start at early stage and continue. Coming to your next question Kathleen, while patients are performing activities of daily living, till they can read you can make reminder tags along the house/ room. Once reading becomes a challenge move on to verbal prompts as the condition gradually grow they might not recollect brush m...
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As we all know Dementia comes in many forms and the person living with Dementia are affected differently as well. For this music therapy that you are using, which certain group of people with Dementia are they most applicable to? Also, you mentioned that it helped with their activities of daily living. When they perform these activities alongside the music being played in the background, do they need prompting or do they do it independently and without any supervision? I am just curious as this ...
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With dementia it is ideal to have limited professionals as with time patients forget names and gradually faces of people as well, so for music therapy also the same professional or caregivers can do the needful. Regarding the result of therapies; with dementia or other degenerative condition any therapy can’t reverse the process thus only goal for therapies is to slower the process or maintain the level. Regular informal psychological assessments are one of the best ways to understand the level ...
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I am just curious. But how do you choose the candidates for the music therapy? How do you know when a patient has failed music therapy? (And it is time to move on to other interventions) What is the duration, type of music that you choose? (I.e. Do you choose the music that the patient likes?) How long do we need to continue the therapy for and how long is the effect expected to last?. Is it a adjunct therapy or is it the main therapy? In the context of music therapy, how do you go about perform...
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