Among Nursing Home Residents, Music Therapy to Reduce Agitation

Dementia patients commonly experience episodes of agitation and violent outbursts. For families who care for an aging parent, it is quite common to experience complications associated with this abnormal behavior. When these behaviors become complex and detrimental to familial relationships and safety of family members, decisions are often made about alternate housing options.

Nursing homes provide care for dementia patients who experience agitation complications. Because agitation can lead to complications involving muscle tension, aggression, repetitive movements, restlessness and even verbal aggression, the nursing staff within the nursing home are often educated and prepared in managing these types of complications.

In many nursing home settings, residents who suffer from dementia-induced agitation find their symptoms are greatly exacerbated by environmental noises. While even the most normal of nursing home noises can set of agitated responses, most residents experience complication when these noises are louder than normal, longer than normal or are simply new sounds that are introduced into the environment.

If your loved one experiences complications associated with agitation, and you are concerned for your loved one’s health and safety, it is important to ask the nursing home staff how they will manage the agitation outbursts. In addition to understanding management at the time of outburst, it is also important to know what measures the nursing home will take to avoid these outbursts from occurring. In many nursing home settings, especially those with many dementia patients, the use of background music is quite common. Soothing dinner music and soft music in resident rooms can provide a way in which to reduce the frequency of dementia-induced agitation events.

The nursing home that utilizes music as a soothing mechanism for nursing home residents must do so with care. Allowing residents to play music in their room, without supervision, or even to adjust television noise without supervision, can lead to adverse outcomes. As a result, many nursing homes will control the sound levels of the television and will only permit specific music use in the resident rooms. Controlled sound and genre is important to maintaining peace within and among the nursing home residents.

Caring for an aging adult can be a rewarding, yet tiring, experience. If you choose to forgo a nursing home, but want to manage agitation within your own home, consider utilizing well controlled music as an option. Using music at the right tone, in a soothing genre, will provide for a better source of stability and peace in your home and will work to soothe the mental and cognitive processes of an aging parent who may be suffering from dementia and agitation.