A life in song: A phenomenological perspective of a person with Alzheimer's disease

Date
1998-08-30
Authors
Teel, Harold
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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to discover how music is meaningful to one person with Alzheimer's disease who resides in a nursing home. Musical meaning and how music functioned in this woman's life both before and after the onset of Alzheimer's disease were explored. Data were collected by observation and participation in music therapy sessions, interviewing staff and family members, and obtaining artifacts. Specific qualitative data analysis techniques were employed in analyzing data.

Major findings indicated that although most past and present functions of music were similar, they changed to adapt to the dementia. Similar past and present functions of music included: (a) communication, (b) enjoyment, (c) humor, (d) affective modification, (e) validation, and (f) motivation and influence. Unique musical functions of the past included: (a) education, and (b) supplemental income; unique musical functions of the present included: (a) connection, (b) selective attention, and (c) transformation. Generalizations about the meaning of music for other persons with Alzheimer's disease were discussed.

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Keywords
Health and environmental sciences, Communication, Alzheimer's, Music therapy, Dementia, Music
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