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Nursing home (NH) residents with dementia commonly exhibit persistent vocalizations (PVs), otherwise known in the literature as disruptive or problematic vocalizations. Having a better understanding of PVs and the research completed to date on this phenomenon is important to guide further research and clinical practice in NHs. This integrative review examines the current literature on the phenomenon of PVs among NH residents with dementia.
We conducted a search in the PubMed, Scopus, Ovid Medline, and CINAHL databases for articles published in English. Articles were included if the focus was specifically on research involving vocal behaviors of older adults with dementia residing in NHs.
Our literature search revealed eight research articles that met the inclusion criteria. These studies were published in 2011 or earlier and involved small sample sizes. Seven of these studies were descriptive and the eighth was a non-pharmacological intervention study for PVs exhibited by NH residents with dementia. These studies were vastly different in their labeling, definitions, and categorization of the PVs as well as methods of measuring PVs.
The heterogeneity of the evidence limits the ability to make recommendations for practice. Given the paucity of research on this phenomenon; recommendations for additional research are given.
Treatment of anxiety and depression, the most common psychiatric symptoms in older adults with mild dementia, requires innovative approaches due to the high cost and significant side effects associated with traditional pharmacological interventions. Alternative non-pharmacological therapies, such as music, when used in conjunction with pharmacological treatment, have the potential to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression in older adults diagnosed with mild dementia. The purpose of this review was to examine the evidence of music's efficacy in improving symptoms of anxiety and depression in older adults with mild dementia.
Four databases (Medline, CINAHL, PsychInfo, PubMed) were searched using the terms “music,” “music therapy,” “music intervention,” “singing,” “dementia,” “anxiety,” and/or “depression,” identifying ten studies that met the inclusion and exclusion criteria.
The poor methodological rigor of the studies precluded reaching consensus on the efficacy of a music intervention in alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression in older adults with mild dementia.
There was inconclusive evidence as to whether music interventions are effective in alleviating symptoms of anxiety and depression in older adults with mild dementia due to the poor methodological rigor. However, with improved designs guided by a deeper understanding of how music engages the aging brain, music may emerge as an important adjunct therapy to improving the lives of older adults with mild dementia.
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