Effects of music on Agitated Patients with Dementia

Effects of music on Agitated Patients with Dementia


Agitation in individuals with severe cognitive impairment is a significant problem that

affects care and overall quality of life. Building on research conducted by Goddaer and

Abraham (1994), this quasi-experimental study proposed that relaxing music played during

meals would exert a calming effect and decrease agitated behaviors among nursing

home residents with dementia. Thirty residents residing in a Special Care Unit participated

in the 4-week study. The Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (Cohen-Mansfield, Marx,

& Rosenthal, 1989) was used to gather data. Baseline data was obtained in Week 1 (no

music). Music was introduced in Week 2, removed in Week 3, and reintroduced in Week

4. At the end of the 4-week study, overall reductions in the cumulative incidence of total

agitated behaviors were observed. Reductions in absolute numbers of agitated behaviors

were achieved during the weeks with music and a distinct pattern was observed.

Relaxing Music

at Mealtime in Nursing Homes

26 DECEMBER 2005

Food is a fundamentally important

part of life. Meals can be very

pleasant events when socializing

with family and friends. Similarly, mealtime

in a nursing home setting provides

an ideal time to promote social interaction

and to capitalize on one of the few

remaining pleasures for many nursing

home residents (Kayser-Jones, 2000).

However, for residents with dementia,

the high sensory stimulation and

demand for social interaction, often in

large, noisy dining rooms may create

uncertainty or anxiety which can be expressed

in various forms of disruptive

behavior (Cohen-Mansfield & Werner,

1995; Goddaer & Abraham, 1994; Hall,

1994; Van Ort & Phillips, 1995). Because

high sensory stimulation may contribute

to displays of disruptive behavior, it has

been suggested that relaxing music, because

of its soothing qualities, is a helpful

intervention to manage agitated (Gerdner

& Swanson, 1993) or disruptive behaviors

(Clark, Lipe, & Bilbrey, 1998;

Thomas, Heitman, & Alexander, 1997).

In the secular, professional, and sacred

literature, anecdotal evidence and

multiple studies document the positive

effects music has on behavior.


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