Short and Longer Term Effects of Musical Intervention in Severe Alzheimer's Disease

This study examined short and longer term effects of musical and cooking interventions on emotional wellbeing of severe Alzheimer's disease (AD) patients.

These two pleasurable activities (i.e., listening to music, tasting sweets) that were collectively performed (i.e., playing music together, collaborative preparation of a cake) were compared in two groups of matched patients with AD (N = 14). Each intervention lasted four weeks (two sessions per week) and their effects were regularly assessed up to four weeks after the end of the intervention. We repeatedly evaluated the emotional state of both groups before, during, and after the intervention periods by analysing discourse content and facial expressions from short filmed interviews as well as caregivers' judgments of mood. The results reveal short-term benefits of both music and cooking interventions on emotional state on all these measures, but long-term benefits were only evident after the music intervention. The present finding suggests that non-pharmacological approaches offer promising methods to improve the quality of life of patients with dementia and that music stimulation is particularly effective to produce long lasting effects on patients' emotional wellbeing.

Authors: Sylvain Clément, Audrey Tonini, Fatiha Khatir, Loris Schiaratura and Séverine Samson
Published in Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal © 2012 University of California Press

Supported using public funding by the Arts Council England