Could Music Improve Quality of Life for Those with Dementia?

Kathy Lee, a researcher and gerontologist at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), is looking into whether music might improve the quality of life for people living with dementia. Lee, who is also assistant professor in the School of Social Work, is helping develop an app that uses music to ease the burdens for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) and their loved ones. She is quoted by UTA as saying, “Among those who have advanced-stage dementia, their behaviors tend to be very sedentary. They won’t move or speak. But once they hear music, especially music they are familiar with, you’ll see them respond to that.” She adds that there is evidence that music-based interventions benefit older adults living with dementia, and she believes it could also ease the burdens of caregivers for those living with dementia. With the help of a federal grant from the National Institute on Aging, Lee will work with an assistant research professor and music therapist at New York University to create SoundMind, described as an app to help combat the neuropsychiatric symptoms of ADRD. The goal is to create an app that automatically detects when a user is sedentary through heartbeat detection. This would trigger the app to play a pre-selected music playlist that will help the person feel less agitated and depressed. Lee believes SoundMind will ease dementia symptoms while boosting caregivers’ well-being at the same time.

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