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Music Compared with Auditory Books: A Randomized Controlled Study Among Long-Term Care Residents with Alzheimer's Disease or Related Dementia.

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Over 5 million Americans age 65 years and older were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and/or related dementia (ADRD), a majority of whom exhibit behavioral and psychological symptoms leading to placement in long-term care settings. These facilities need nonmedical interventions, and music-based programs have received supportive evidence.


Thirteen long-term care facilities were among a wave of facilities that volunteered to be trained and to administer a music-based intervention. The residents within were randomized into intervention or control groups (intervention/music, n = 103; control/audiobook, n = 55).


This team used a pragmatic trial to randomly embed music and control (audiobooks) into 13 long-term care facilities to compare the effects on agitation in people with ADRD.


Measures included a demographic survey; the Mini-Mental Status Examination, used to assess cognitive status; and the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory with 4 subscales, used to measure agitation. These measures were implemented at baseline and every 2 weeks for 8 weeks. Mixed-effects models were used to evaluate change in agitation measures while addressing dependencies of scores within participants and facility.


Decreases in agitation were attributable to both music and audiobooks in 3 of 4 agitation subscales. In the fourth, physical agitation, which was not directed toward staff, initially, it decreased given music, and increased thereafter; and generally, it increased with the audiobooks.

Conclusion and implications

Both music and control audiobooks delivered by headphones after personalized selection reduced some aspects of agitation in residents diagnosed with ADRD. The effects of music were greater initially then diminished.

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