Witnesses to transformation: Family member experiences providing individualized music to their relatives with dementia


PUBLIC INTEREST STATEMENT Substantial and persuasive research indicated the power of familiar music to calm and engage persons with dementia. Less is known about the responses to music by family members, who provide 90% of the care and sometimes choose culturally and personally familiar music to share with their relative with dementia. As researchers, we found family members treasured the moments when listening or making familiar music was a means to connect, communicate, and engage relatives with dementia. Sharing music allowed the family members to assume new roles and form positive memories with relatives. The role of providing music contrasted sharply with other caretaking tasks that were described as difficult or troublesome. Understanding the value of music at the end of life offers new possibilities for music educators and lovers. Educators could emphasize the value and culture of music and prepare students to enjoy culturally relevant music throughout life.

 

Abstract: 

Content analysis of 35 family members stories found that sharing individualized music enhanced memory, mood and provided interactive opportunities, where family members connected and communicated with relatives who had dementia. Technology supports a positive new role for family members, who often use MP3 players (e.g. iPods), headphones, splitters, and other technical devices to share preferred, culturally relevant, and digitized music with relatives with dementia. Family members, who provided individualized music described new positive memories and transformed beliefs about the disease and their loved one. Educational leaders in general and music educators specifically, have an opportunity to add renewed emphasis to the culture and value of music as a lifelong resource. Music appreciation courses that include technological skills for creating playlists could support a lifetime of access to individualized music for young and older students, who are also prepared to address needs of those with neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

 

This publication has been peer reviewed.
Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Authors: 
Johnston, E., Rasmusson, X., Foyil, B., & Shopland P
Year of Publication: 
2017
Journal, Book, Magazine or Other Publication Title: 
Cogent Education
Volume: 
4
Issue: 
1
Pages: 
1362888
Publisher: 
Taylor and Francis
Date Published: 
Thursday, August 17, 2017
Place Published: 
Online
Publication Language: 
English
DOI: 
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/2331186X.2017.1362888
Boyer's Domain: 
Associated Awards: 
CEITR research fellowship

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Elizabeth Johnston
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