Music Therapy to Reduce Anxiety and Stress for Individuals with Dementia

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The purpose of this presentation is to provide a theoretical basis for the use of music therapy to reduce anxiety and stress for individuals who have dementia. The first part includes descriptions of the mechanisms of stress, anxiety and agitation as they relate to dementia. Both neuroscience applications and person-centered perspectives are included to describe an overall treatment approach to helping adults with dementia reduce the symptoms associated with stress. Case study examples from the presenter’s experience will be included.

Learner Objectives:

  1. Understand terminology commonly presented in the related literature, including dementia, stress, anxiety, and agitation.
  2. Review the present research on music therapy as a treatment modality for individuals with dementia.
  3. Develop an integrated understanding of the polyvagal theory and its application to music therapy practice within a person-centered approach.

About the Presenter:

Michelle Westfall, MS, MT-BC has practiced music therapy for five years with children and adolescents with developmental, emotional, and behavioral disabilities. She completed her undergraduate degree at Berklee College of Music in 2007. While pursuing her master’s degree at Radford University, she volunteered for a community program for older adults with dementia, which is where she became inspired to complete a case study and theoretical paper for her graduate clinical project.