Background: Individuals with dementia often experience poor quality of life (QOL) due to behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). Music therapy can reduce BPSD, but most studies have focused on patients with mild to moderate dementia. We hypothesized that music intervention would have beneficial effects compared with a no-music control condition, and that interactive music intervention would have stronger effects than passive music intervention.
Methods: Thirty-nine individuals with severe Alzheimer's disease were randomly and blindly assigned to two music intervention groups (passive or interactive) and a no-music Control group. Music intervention involved individualized music. Short-term effects were evaluated via emotional response and stress levels measured with the autonomic nerve index and the Faces Scale. Long-term effects were evaluated by BPSD changes using the Behavioral Pathology in Alzheimer's Disease (BEHAVE-AD) Rating Scale.
Results: Passive and interactive music interventions caused short-term parasympathetic dominance. Interactive intervention caused the greatest improvement in emotional state. Greater long-term reduction in BPSD was observed following interactive intervention, compared with passive music intervention and a no-music control condition.
Conclusion: Music intervention can reduce stress in individuals with severe dementia, with interactive interventions exhibiting the strongest beneficial effects. Since interactive music intervention can restore residual cognitive and emotional function, this approach may be useful for aiding severe dementia patients' relationships with others and improving QOL. The registration number of the trial and the name of the trial registry are UMIN000008801 and "Examination of Effective Nursing Intervention for Music Therapy for Severe Dementia Elderly Person" respectively.