Music Therapy and Alzheimer’s Disease / Dementia Care in Winnipeg

How Does Music Therapy Make A Difference For Individuals with Alzheimer’s or Dementia?

Music therapy treatment is efficacious and valid with individuals who have Alzheimer’s or dementia and have functional deficits in physical, psychological, cognitive or social functioning. Research results and clinical experiences attest to the viability of music therapy even in those who are resistive to other treatment approaches. Music is a form of sensory stimulation, which provokes responses due to the familiarity, predictability, and feelings of security associated with it.


What Can One Expect From A Music Therapist?

When individualized music experiences are designed by a professionally trained music therapist to fit functional abilities and needs, responses may be immediate and readily apparent. Participants without a music background can benefit from music therapy.


Music Therapy Provides Opportunities For:

– Memory recall which contributes to reminiscence and satisfaction with life
– Positive changes in mood and emotional states
– Sense of control over life through successful experiences
– Awareness of self and environment which accompanies increased attention to music
– Anxiety and stress reduction for older adult and caregiver
– Nonpharmacological management of pain and discomfort
– Stimulation which provokes interest even when no other approach is effective
– Structure which promotes rhythmic and continuous movement or vocal fluency as an adjunct to physical rehabilitation
– Emotional intimacy when spouses and families share creative music experiences
– Social interaction with caregivers and families

World renowned neuroligist and author, Oliver Sacks M.D., talks about Alzheimer’s Disease and the power of music therapy.

An informational video on Music Therapy and Dementia created by the Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund

Is There Research To Support Music Therapy For Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease / Dementia?

Through peer-reviewed journals inside the profession such as the Journal of Music Therapy, Music Therapy, and music Therapy Perspectives, and extensive articles in journals outside the profession, AMTA has promoted much research exploring the benefits of music therapy for persons with Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.

Research Highlights

– Music therapy reduces depression among older adults.

– Music experiences can be structured to enhance social/emotional skills, to assist in recall and language skills and to decrease problem behaviors.

– Music tasks can be used to assess cognitive ability in people with Alzheimer’s Disease.

– Music is effective in decreasing the frequency of agitated and aggressive behaviors for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias.

– Individuals in the late stages of dementia respond to and interact with music.

Information provided by American Music Therapy Association, Inc.

Bang A Beat Family-Centred Therapies

216 - 1460 Chevrier Blvd.
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 1Y7
Phone: 204-887-4779

Bang A Beat Music Therapy Centre


Selected References

Brotons, M. & Kroger, S.M. (2000). The impact of music therapy on language functioning in dementia. Journal of Music Therapy, 37(3), 183-95.

Brotons M. & Marti, P. (2003). Music therapy with Alzheimer’s patients and their family caregivers: a pilot project. Journal of Music Therapy 40(2), 138-150.

Cevasco, A.M. & Grant, R.E. (2003). Comparison of different methods for eliciting exerciseto-music for clients with Alzheimer’s Disease. Journal of Music Therapy 40(1), 41-56.

Clair, A.A. (1996). The effect of singing on alert responses in persons with late stage dementia. Journal of Music Therapy, 33(4), 234-247.

Clark, M.E., Lipe, A.W., & Bilbrey, M. (1998). Use of music to decrease aggressive behaviors in people with dementia. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 24(7), 10-17. Gerdner, L.A. (2000).

Effects of individualized versus classical “relaxation” music on the frequency of agitation in elderly persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. International Psychogeriatrics, 12(1), 49-65.

Gorman, C. (2005, November 14). Music and the mind. Time, 166(20).

Gregory, D. (2002). Music listening for maintaining attention of older adults with cognitive impairments. Journal of Music Therapy, 39(4), 244-264.

Hanser, S.B., & Thompson, L.W. (1994). Effects of a music therapy strategy on depressed older adults. Journal of Gerontology, 49(6), P265-9.

Johnson, G., Otto, D., & Clair, A.A. (2001). The effect of instrumental and vocal music on adherence to a physical rehabilitation exercise program with persons who are elderly. Journal of Music Therapy, 38(2), 82-96.

Kroger, S.M., Chapin, K., & Brotons, M. (1999). Is Music Therapy an Effective Intervention for Dementia? A Meta-Analytic Review of Literature. Journal of Music Therapy, 36(1), 2-15.

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