A Comprehensive Music Therapy Approach in Dementia Care

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“Dementia is an overall term for a set of symptoms that are caused by disorders affecting the brain. Symptoms may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language, severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. A person with dementia may also experience changes in mood or behavior” (Alzheimer’s Society of Canada (2018). Internationally 6% of the population over the age of 65 are diagnosed with dementia as the result of various conditions. The etiology, movement, and behavioral demonstrations of dementias are diverse and generate multiple types. At present pharmacological treatments are not successful at managing the behavioural and psychological symptoms (BPSD) of dementia.

Areas of the brain involved in processing music and memory are often preserved, which facilitates individuals at various stages of dementia to engage in music experiences. This participation in music has demonstrated gains in functional domains, in particular communication and social behavior (Cuddy et al, 2015).
Neurologic Music Therapy (NMT) is “…the therapeutic application of music to cognitive, affective, sensory, language and motor dysfunctions due to disease or injury to the human nervous system,” (Thaut et al, 2014). NMT offers standardized treatment techniques that are adapted to each client Thaut et al, 2014) and included as therapeutic music exercises [TME] and have demonstrated efficacy coping with working with individuals diagnosed with dementia.

This presentation will feature case examples from two music therapists working in various contexts including LTC, adult day program, private practice and via telehealth music therapy (TMT). NMT approaches in working with clients with dementia are shared including AAMT, MACT, MPC etc. Information will be also be shared on consultation with caregivers on using MBIs in their care as well as the role of caregivers in facilitating TMT.

Learner Objectives

1. To discuss a comprehensive music approach in dementia care.
III. Treatment Implementation and Documentation: A. Implementation, 1, 2h, I, k,r, cc, zz, aaa, 4i

2. To describe Neurologic Music Therapy Therapeutic Music Experiences used in dementia care
III. Treatment Implementation and Documentation: D. Treatment Planning, 1, 4-7, 9, 11

3. To understand the role of music-based interventions that caregivers can utilize in supporting persons with dementia
III. Treatment Implementation and Documentation: D. Treatment Planning, 1, 3
IV. Evaluation and Termination of Treatment: A. Evaluation, 7

Presenter Biographies

Amy Clements-Cortes, Ph.D., RP, MTA, MT-BC is Assistant Professor, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto; a credentialed Music Therapist, Registered Psychotherapist, and Managing Editor of the Music and Medicine journal.

Grace Rogers holds a Master of Applied Music and Health and a Bachelor of Fine Arts. She has clinical experience with aging populations, especially in settings focused on dementia care.