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Music in the nursing home: hitting the right note! The provision of music to dementia patients with verbal and vocal agitation in Dutch nursing homes

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2008

E. R. van der Geer*
Department of Nursing Home Medicine, Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands and Stichting tanteLouise, Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands
A. C. Vink
University Medical Centre Groningen, University of Groningen, the Netherlands; ArtEZ School of Music, Enschede, The Netherlands; and KenVak Research Centre Art Therapies, The Netherlands
J. M. G. A. Schols
Department of General Practice, FHML, Maastricht University, The Netherlands and Department Tranzo, Tilburg University, The Netherlands
J. P. J. Slaets
Department of Internal Medicine, University Medical Centre Groningen, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Correspondence should be addressed to: E.R. van der Geer, MD, Department of Nursing Home Medicine, 117 VPHG, Radboud University Nijmegen, Medical Centre, PO Box 9101, NL-6500 HB Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Phone: +31-243618834. Email:


Background: The study aims to provide insight into the type of music being offered in Dutch nursing homes to patients with both dementia and verbal and vocal agitation. It also investigates the degree to which the music offered corresponds to the musical preferences of the nursing home residents.

Method: Using random sampling, 20 nursing homes were selected to participate in this study. Within these homes, semi-structured interviews were conducted with nursing home physicians (n = 17) and other nursing home care providers (n = 20). Each interview focused on up to three psychogeriatric residents with verbal and vocal agitation. In total, 51 residents were discussed in the interviews.

Results: For each resident, the frequency of music, the type of music being offered, and the degree of correspondence between the music being offered and the resident's preferences varied. In almost all cases, music was being offered in the communal living room during the mid-morning coffee and the afternoon tea, while music was only infrequently offered to residents during meals. However, this music was not tailored to the preferences of the residents. During patient-centered care activities in the early morning and before sleep, when offered, the music was generally tailored to the preferences of the resident(s).

Conclusion: Music is frequently played in nursing homes to patients with dementia who have verbal and vocal agitation. When offered to a group of residents, the music tends not to be tailored to the preferences of the residents. However, when offered individually, musical preferences are generally taken into account.

Research Article
Copyright © International Psychogeriatric Association 2008

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