The Impact of Singing Engagement on Food Intake of Individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias: A Multi-site, Repeated Measures Study


music therapy

How to Cite

Hiller, J. (2020). The Impact of Singing Engagement on Food Intake of Individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias: A Multi-site, Repeated Measures Study. Voices: A World Forum for Music Therapy, 20(2).


Malnutrition among older adults with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) is a serious and long-recognized health concern. Identifying nonpharmacological means for enhancing the volume of nutrition intake is an urgent need. Researchers have explored the use of music and music therapy as nonpharmacological avenues in this regard, but most music-based studies related to food intake focus on receptive interventions wherein participants are exposed to recorded music during meal times. The purpose of the present research is to investigate whether residents with ADRD would significantly increase their volume of food intake during the midday meal immediately following 30 minutes of active singing engagement facilitated by a board-certified music therapist (MT-BC). Results indicated no significant change in food intake for participants with ADRD in three long-term care facilities. However, the unintended finding at two facilities wherein participants’ food intake was greater during baseline weeks versus treatment weeks led to speculation about the impact of serotonin which researchers report is released during enjoyable music engagement episodes, but that has also long been recognized as an appetite suppressant. With this newly interpreted finding, recommendation is offered for monitoring when music therapy is provided for individuals with ADRD and nutritional complications relative to their meal times toward minimizing potential adverse effects.

Copyright (c) 2020 James Hiller

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