The Effects of Music on Bathing Cooperation for Residents with Dementia

The task of bathing uncooperative patients with middle to late dementia constantly challenges caregivers who must balance the important ethical concerns of maintaining patient autonomy/dignity while also meeting basic physical needs. The agitation associated with bathing is expressed in a multitude of behaviors ranging from physical and verbal combativeness to avoidance and hiding. The purpose of this study was to evaluate music’s effect on bathing cooperation among a group of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. A convenience sample of 14 residents was selected by the nursing staff of a 119-bed nursing facility based on behaviors that demonstrated resistance to bathing and a premorbid interest in music as disclosed by family members. A quasi-experimental design was employed with each subject receiving three pretreatment observations, three treatment observations and three posttreatment observations. Data was analyzed using Cochran’s Q nonparametric test for related samples to determine if matched sets of frequencies for the dependent variables differed significantly among the nine recording times. The results of the data analysis showed no significant differences among the nine recording times for the dependent variables of hiding/hoarding (Q = 6.700; p = .570). physically nonaggressive behavior (Q = 7.600; p = .473), and verbally agitated behavior (Q = 34.511; p = .000). Significance was found with the independent variable of aggressive behavior. Results of this study suggest that the discretionary use of music may have some effect on delaying the onset of more severe forms of agitation. Furthermore, reducing physical aggressiveness may have the dual effect of improving the patient’s quality of life while also increasing job satisfaction among primary careproviders.

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