Individualized Music Program is Associated with Improved Outcomes for U.S. Nursing Home Residents with Dementia

Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2017 Sep;25(9):931-938. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2017.04.008. Epub 2017 Apr 14.


Objectives: The objective of this study was to compare resident outcomes before and after implementation of an individualized music program, MUSIC & MEMORY (M&M), designed to address the behavioral and psychological symptoms associated with dementia (BPSD).

Setting: 98 nursing homes trained in the M&M program during 2013 and 98 matched-pair comparisons.

Participants: Long-stay residents with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD) residing in M&M participating facilities (N = 12,905) and comparison facilities (N = 12,811) during 2012-2013.

Intervention: M&M is a facility-level quality improvement program that provides residents with music specific to their personal histories and preferences.

Measurements: Discontinuation of anxiolytic and antipsychotic medications, and reductions in behavioral problems and depressed mood in 2012 (pre-intervention) and 2013 (intervention), calculated using Minimum Data Set (MDS) assessments.

Results: The proportion of residents who discontinued antipsychotic medication use over a 6-month period increased from 17.6% to 20.1% among M&M facilities, while remaining stable among comparison facilities (15.9% to 15.2%). The same trend was observed for anxiolytic medications: Discontinuation of anxiolytics increased in M&M facilities (23.5% to 24.4%), while decreasing among comparison facilities (24.8% to 20.0%). M&M facilities also demonstrated increased rates of reduction in behavioral problems (50.9% to 56.5%) versus comparison facilities (55.8% to 55.9%). No differences were observed for depressed mood.

Conclusions: These results offer the first evidence that the M&M individualized music program is associated with reductions in antipsychotic medication use, anxiolytic medication use, and BPSD symptoms among long-stay nursing home residents with ADRD.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Music therapy; nonpharmacological intervention; nursing homes.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alzheimer Disease / rehabilitation
  • Dementia / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Music Therapy / methods*
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Quality Improvement*