Using Personalized Music Playlists to Improve Outcomes for Patients With Dementia in Long-Term Care Facilities

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Ty'Neshia P. Kelley, BSN/SN
JoAnne Gay Dishman School of Nursing, Lamar University, Beaumont, TX, USA

It is estimated that nearly six million Americans live with some form of dementia. Nursing students are in need of experiences which help to promote inter-professionalism in the care of patients with dementia. Over the past decade a significant amount of attention has focused on the use of music in the care of a persons with dementia demonstrating that it decreases distress, enhances engagement, promotes memory recall, and improves verbal interaction. The purpose of this study was to examine nursing and social work students’ experiences working with a Music and Memory program in older adults with dementia. The students met weekly with residents in a long term care facility and allowed them to listen to a personalized music playlists. Each week the students wrote a reflective journal entry which they delivered to faculty detailing their experience, observations, patient reactions, and their feelings about the interaction. A qualitative analysis of the student’s reflective journals was done to evaluate student experiences and observations related to both positive and negative outcomes. This program provided nursing and social work students with a learning opportunity that incorporated the art of music with the science of neurology research in a vulnerable population. It also demonstrated the use of alternative therapies to antipsychotic use in older adults that nursing students can carry to their eventual practice settings. Students reported improved empathy in communicating with older adults who are unable to effectively communicate their needs and increased interest in serving this population. Patient observations included positive physical and emotional responses to music, increased communication, regained activities of daily living, and reduced agitation. The music and memory program has shown consistent improved outcomes with decreases in agitation and decreases in the use of antipsychotics in the long term care setting. A personalized music list can evoke memories and may enhance social communication and behavior.