Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Tara Lineweaver


Dementia is tragic both for patients with the disease and for their family members. As this neurodegenerative disorder progresses, cognitive functions deteriorate, agitation and aggression increase, and mood worsens (McDermott, Orrell, et al., 2014; Spiro, 2010; Vasionyté & Madison, 2013). Non-pharmacological approaches, such as active music therapy or passive music listening, can be effective in reducing these symptoms. However, no past studies have examined how music listening affects the social interactions of patients with dementia. As such, this study examined whether nursing home residents with dementia are more engaged and interactive if they listen to individually selected music for 15 minutes just prior to a visit with loved ones. Twelve nursing home residents (4 men, 8 women) with dementia (MMSE 14=5.00, SD=7.25) and their loved ones experienced 5 visits preceded by music and 5 visits not preceded by music, with the exception of one resident who passed away after 3 music and 4 nonmusic visits. Following each visit, the loved one, blinded to the music vs non-music condition, completed a Social Interaction Questionnaire assessing the resident's alertness, engagement, talkativeness, appropriateness, physical responsiveness, relaxation, happiness, agitation and repetitiveness. Results demonstrated that female residents' social interactions were rated more positively, but male residents' social interactions were rated more negatively, after music than non-music visits. These results support the efficacy of music as an intervention for improving the social interactions of women, but not men, with dementia.