Music Therapy: Passive Better than Active for Those with Dementia

Music Therapy: Passive Better than Active for Those with Dementia

Listening to music appears to be more effective in reducing agitation, behavioral symptoms and anxiety for older adults with dementia than does their singing or playing along with music.

That’s according to a study published in the July issue of JAMDA, the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

“Receptive music therapy” also may offer a way for operators to reduce the off-label use of antipsychotic drugs for residents with dementia and also save costs compared with implementing interactive music therapy, suggest the authors, from Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The researchers assessed the therapy by reviewing 38 studies involving a total of 1,418 people with dementia. Study participants lived in memory care units, assisted living, residential care facilities, senior apartments, nursing homes and other settings.

The investigators found that older adults who experienced receptive music therapy had significant decreases in agitation and behavioral symptoms compared with those who had “usual care” without the therapy. Meanwhile, no significant difference in behavioral problems and psychiatric symptoms was seen between older adults who experienced interactive music therapy versus usual care.

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