Music Application Yields Positive Results Among Adults With Dementia, Caregivers

Findings in a small sample of patient-caregiver dyads demonstrated high potential for a music intervention’s use in dementia care.

A mobile health (mHealth) music application designed for older adults had high feasibility and adoption among dyads of home-dwelling adults with dementia and their informal caregivers, according to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology.

Further, there were no notable differences in demographic or clinical variables between dyads who accepted the mHealth intervention and those who did not.

These findings demonstrate a high potential for the music app’s utilization in dementia care.

Music interventions for individuals living with dementia have been shown to improve their health and interactions with their caregivers. However, these interventions are often restricted to institutions and not available to the general public.

The music application Alight was developed using an iterative, expert-driven, participatory design approach, including a requirement elicitation phase and 2 rounds of prototyping and testing in real-world settings.

“End users and stakeholders were involved in all steps, that is, workshops, interviews, field observation, ethnographic inquiries, and beta testing sessions with music therapists, patients, and caregivers in collaboration with a commercial music and technology company,” the authors explained.

Final prototyping and testing occurred in the LIVE@Home.Path trial, which took place between 2019 and 2021 at 3 municipalities in Norway.

The current study included 280 dyads with dementia from the same 3 municipalities.

The mean age was 82 years, with all participants being 65 years or older. Most (62%) were female, and the majority had Alzheimer disease (44%) of mild severity (71%).

Of the 280 dyads, 63 were offered the music intervention, and only 8 accepted use.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions led to a smaller sample being offered Alight than scheduled, which possibly hindered us from determining distinct clinical and demographical characteristics of dyads accepting use,” the authors explained.

Feasibility was high among these 8 dyads, with 6 reporting a positive impact on mood, 4 reporting a positive impact on activity, and 4 reporting good user-friendliness.

Adoption of the music intervention was also high, with 5 dyads reporting daily use of the mHealth app or use several times a week.

Additionally, 6 dyads said the music intervention was useful, and 5 said it had a positive impact on the relationship between patient and caregiver.

However, the authors also noted that lack of Wi-Fi access and unfamiliarity with using touchscreens were barriers to some study participants.

Aside from small sample size, the authors noted other limitations to the study. These included the lack of a formal qualitative analysis, largely due to the lack of information obtained from the 8-dyad sample, and the lack of use of recognized evaluation tools or guidelines for mHealth interventions.

“Future studies should evaluate the impact of mobile music interventions adjunctive to other elements of care for [persons with dementia] and caregivers on relevant clinical outcomes, such as cognition, neuropsychiatric symptoms, quality of life, caregiver burden and relation, as well as resource utilization,” the authors concluded. “A participatory design process is valuable for safeguarding acceptability, adoption, and feasibility of future mHealth applications in dementia care, and accurate labeling of the application can permit the users to select an application that fits their current and future needs and resources.”

Reference

Berge LI, Gedde MH, Torrado Vidal JC, et al. The acceptability, adoption, and feasibility of a music application developed using participatory design for home-dwelling persons with dementia and their caregivers. The "Alight" app in the LIVE@Home.Path trial. Front Psychiatry. Published online August 18, 2022. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2022.949393