The evaluation of musical engagement in dementia: Implications for self-reported quality of life

The evaluation of musical engagement in dementia: Implications for self-reported quality of life

Abstract

Despite a well-established framework of practical applications, evidence of the efficacy of music therapy in dementia care is inconsistent. This project tested a new evaluation protocol to look at clients’ participation in music therapy from the standpoint of engagement rather than cognitive abilities and behaviour. The first stage involved the development of a new scale of musical engagement to assess the clients’ engagement as a function of creativity, duration, energy, and assertiveness. In the second stage 12 elderly clients with dementia participated in 20 weekly music therapy sessions to identify potential relationships between participants’ level of musical engagement and their self-assessed quality of life. Results: While relationships between the variables were not statistically significant, there was an indication that increases in self-assessed quality of life may have been related to a decrease and/or stability in the level of musical engagement. Results also showed that the level of musical engagement in 70% of the evaluated group began to increase after the midpoint of the clinical program. Further analysis suggested that the more intuitive approach by the music therapists, more challenging music experiences, and less structure in the program might have been responsible for this increase. Regardless of limited statistical outcomes, the project offers a valuable insight into the techniques and assessment procedures for music therapy with elderly people who have dementia. In future, the scale of musical engagement could be applied to the investigation of moment-to-moment variations in musical engagement of people with dementia, which could lead to a better understanding of momentary changes in clients’ quality of life.

Keywords: interactive music therapy, dementia, musical engagement, quality of life


Citation

Lem, A. (2015). The evaluation of musical engagement in dementia: Implications for self-reported quality of life. Australian Journal of Music Therapy, 26, 30-51.


Date published: July 2015