Jul 22, 2012

Alzheimer's Care Tip, Singing to Improve the Quality of Daily Living

The majority of people with dementia improved on self-rated quality of life, self-esteem, and communication with their family and friends.

The following research and the findings are from Mary S. Mittelman, NYU Langone Medical Center

Few pleasurable group activities have been developed and tested for people with dementia together with their family members.

We recently started a chorus for this population and conducted a pilot study of its benefits.

We anticipated that singing and rehearsing together for a performance would provide an opportunity for the group to share a stimulating and social activity, and that the experience would improve the well-being and quality of life of all participants.

Subscribe to the Alzheimer's Reading Room

A Chorus for Older Adults with Dementia and their Family Members

To our knowledge, there have been no rigorous evaluations of the benefits of this kind of shared musical activity.

Qualitative assessments included observation by a music therapist and NYU research staff, take-home questionnaires completed after the concert and focus groups.

Eleven dyads participated. All but one attended every rehearsal.

The majority of people with dementia improved from baseline to follow-up on self-rated quality of life, self-esteem, and communication with their family and friends.

The majority of caregivers improved in health-related quality of life and social support.

We now have evidence for the feasibility of the chorus and qualitative evidence of its efficacy.

The information obtained by different approaches to data collection supported and enhanced the conclusion that the experience was validating and pleasurable for participants.

In addition to giving the patients and their caregivers a new means of communication, Dr. Mittelman is trying to prove that the choir can make a difference in the lives of these families.

Here is a video example.

The choir is named "The Unforgettables".

Can't find a choral group where you live? Try it with family, neighbors, and friends at home.

The research and findings described above were conducted by Mary S. Mittelman, Dr.PH, research professor, Department of Psychiatry, Division of Brain Aging, NYU Langone Medical Center, and, Cynthia Epstein, LCSW, Concetta Tomaino, DA , Kendra Ray, MA and Jan Maier, RN, MPH, Department of Psychiatry.

  Creating Moments of Joy: A Journal for Caregivers, Fourth Edition
  The 36-Hour Day A Family Guide to Caring for People with Alzheimer Disease

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room