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Nursing home patients with dementia helped by music

Study found that residents in nursing homes that utilized the MUSIC & MEMORY music program were more likely to discontinue use of antipsychotic and antianxiety drugs for dementia.

By
Amy Wallace
Researchers at Brown University have found that personalized music programs may help nursing home residents with dementia. Photo by Mohammad Kheirkhah/UPI
Researchers at Brown University have found that personalized music programs may help nursing home residents with dementia. Photo by Mohammad Kheirkhah/UPI | License Photo

May 10 (UPI) -- Music may indeed have the power to heal, according to a new study by Brown University who studied the effects of personalized music on dementia patients.

The national study compared key outcomes in nursing homes in the United States that implemented an individualized music program called MUSIC & MEMORY with nursing homes without the program, and its affect on dementia patients.

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MUSIC & MEMORY programs are personalized music playlists created to help seniors cope with the disorienting and anxious experience of living with Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

The study of more than 25,000 residents in 196 nursing homes found that after nursing homes implemented the program, residents with dementia were significantly more likely to discontinue antipsychotic and antianxiety medications for dementia and were less likely to have disruptive behaviors compared to residents in nursing homes without the program.

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The study did not, however, show an improvement in mood of dementia patients after the program.

"This is promising," Rosa Baier, an associate professor of practice at Brown University's School of Public Health, said in a press release. "It's a first step to understanding that there may be improvements that can be attributed to this intervention. Providers are looking for non-pharmacologic interventions to address dementia behaviors. This adds to the evidence base that can help improve patient care for these residents."

Researchers found the rate of discontinuing antipsychotic medication rose to 20.1 percent after implementation of the program, compared to the 17.6 percent rate before the program.

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In nursing homes without the music program, the rate stayed relatively the same during the study period.

The discontinuation of antianxiety medications rose to 24.4 percent after the music program, compared to 23.5 percent before. The rate of reduction in behavior problems increased to 56.5 percent after the program as well, compared to 50.9 percent before.

The study was published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

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