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Keywords:

  • anxiety;
  • dementia;
  • elders;
  • long-term care;
  • music;
  • nursing;
  • older adult

Aim.  This article reports the results of a study evaluating a preferred music listening intervention for reducing anxiety in older adults with dementia in nursing homes.

Background.  Anxiety can have a significant negative impact on older adults’ functional status, quality of life and health care resources. However, anxiety is often under-diagnosed and inappropriately treated in those with dementia. Little is known about the use of a preferred music listening intervention for managing anxiety in those with dementia.

Design.  A quasi-experimental pretest and posttest design was used.

Methods.  This study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a preferred music listening intervention on anxiety in older adults with dementia in nursing home. Twenty-nine participants in the experimental group received a 30-minute music listening intervention based on personal preferences delivered by trained nursing staff in mid-afternoon, twice a week for six weeks. Meanwhile, 23 participants in the control group only received usual standard care with no music. Anxiety was measured by Rating Anxiety in Dementia at baseline and week six. Analysis of covariance (ancova) was used to determine the effectiveness of a preferred music listening intervention on anxiety at six weeks while controlling for pretest anxiety, age and marital status.

Results. ancova results indicated that older adults who received the preferred music listening had a significantly lower anxiety score at six weeks compared with those who received the usual standard care with no music (= 12·15, = 0·001).

Conclusions.  Preferred music listening had a positive impact by reducing the level of anxiety in older adults with dementia.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Nursing staff can learn how to implement preferred music intervention to provide appropriate care tailored to the individual needs of older adults with dementia. Preferred music listening is an inexpensive and viable intervention to promote mental health of those with dementia.