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The Effects of Music on Bathing Cooperation for Residents with Dementia

Gary Jones

MediMusic CEO & Co-Founder

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 behaviours 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 behaviours 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 post-treatment observations. Data was analysed 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 behaviour (Q = 7.600; p = .473), and verbally agitated behaviour (Q = 34.511; p = .000). Significance was found with the independent variable of aggressive behaviour. 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 care-providers.

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