Music Therapy

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IntroductionIn this research paper, the effectiveness of music therapy on the cognitive degenerative disorder of dementia will be evaluated. To support the contention that music therapy is effective in treating the symptoms of dementia, research documenting this therapy’s impact on memory, emotions, and behavior will be examined. In order to provide a greater understanding of music therapy and dementia, these terms will be defined. Second, research will be examined to determine music therapy’s impact on the psychological and behavioral issues associated with dementia. Finally, a summary of music therapy’s benefits and an evaluation of its effectiveness in treating individuals afflicted with dementia will be discussed. Music therapyMusic therapy is the clinical use of music intervention to accomplish individualized goals that address the physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs of patients (American Music Therapy Association). According to the American Music Therapy Association, the idea that music can be used for healing purposes has existed for centuries; however, it was not until the 1950s that the discipline of music therapy emerged as a formal discipline. In the United States, the healing effects of music were not recognized until doctors and nurses in Veteran Administration hospitals observed the positive physical and emotional responses of injured soldiers (American Music Therapy Association). Music therapists are trained to assess the strengths and needs of individuals in settings that include hospitals, schools, and nursing homes. Based on their evaluation of each patient’s mental and physical health, the therapists develop treatment plans that involve creating, singing, moving to, and/or listening to music (American Music Therapy Association). By participating in music therapy, individuals’ cognitive abilities are strengthened, which helps them to improve their functioning in other areas of their lives (Schmidt 116). This type of therapy can improve the quality of life for people throughout their lifespan, despite diversity, disability, or illness (Schmidt 116). Music interventions can be designed to assist patients in expressing feelings, altering mood, enhancing memory, decreasing the frequency as well as the duration of aggressive or agitated behavior, and encouraging meaningful social interaction and emotional intimacy (Schmidt 116). There are two main ways of facilitating music therapy: active music therapy, in which the patients are required to play musical instruments or sing along with the therapist, and passive music therapy, in which the patients listen to live or recorded music played by the therapist (Aldridge 204). Patients participate in the creation of music in active music therapy while they play the role of listener in passive music therapy (Aldridge 204-205). In both types of therapy, it is imperative that the music be tailored to meet the needs and preferences of the patients (Aldridge 204). DementiaDementia is the impairment of cognitive functions, such as thinking, memory, and reasoning, which is severe enough to interfere with a person's daily functioning. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, dementia is defined as a group of symptoms that are caused by various diseases or conditions. The most prevalent symptoms associated with this disorder are changes in personality, mood, and behavior (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke). Dementia develops when the parts of the brain that are involved with learning, memory, decision-making, and language are affected by one or more of a variety of infections or diseases (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke). The most common cause of dementia is Alzheimer's disease, but there are at least fifty other known causes, such as AIDS and toxic reactions (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke). The frequency of...
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