Music-based interventions for people with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias: A review of the research


  • Suzanne B. Hanser Berklee College of Music



This paper is an umbrella review of systematic research reviews investigating music-based interventions for people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. While the quality of research methodology for many articles is variable, the findings are nevertheless impressive regarding a variety of positive results for music and music therapy. The strongest outcomes include the ability of these interventions to reduce agitation, anxiety, depression, and other behavioral/psychological symptoms in this population. Yet the impact on cognition and memory is mixed, and it is difficult to determine whether observed improvements might be due to reductions in anxiety. The article addresses several specific music-based interventions, service delivery options and caregiver programming that have been effective. Finally, neurological evidence is presented to account for preserved musical ability of people into late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. These findings support the success of music-based interventions, as well as need for clinical and research guidelines to standardize protocols and compare research studies.

Author Biography

Suzanne B. Hanser, Berklee College of Music





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