The Promise of Intergenerational Choir for Improving Psychosocial and Cognitive Health for those with Dementia: The Voices in Motion Project

Nicholas Tamburri, Michaella Trites, Debra Sheets, Andre Smith, Stuart MacDonald
2019 The Arbutus Review  
Rates of dementia continue to increase along with life expectancy. As neither dementia's causenor its cure is well understood from the perspective of medical science, further investigations ofcomplementary lifestyle and non-pharmaceutical interventions are imperative. Although arts-basedtherapies have been explored selectively, the significance of these interventions for persons withdementia (PwD) remains undervalued in both the general population and scientific literature. Thisstudy aims to
more » ... hisstudy aims to examine one promising lifestyle intervention, the effect of intergenerational choirparticipation, on psychosocial and cognitive function for PwD. Participants (n = 32), in partnershipwith their family caregivers and local high school students, participated in an intergenerational choirfor as many as three choir seasons spanning up to 18 months of follow-up. Participants underwent anexpansive assessment of psychosocial, physiological, and cognitive function every four to six weeksas part of an intensive repeated measures design. Here, the potential benefits of choir for PwD wereexplored in relation to change for select cognitive (Mini-Mental State Examination: MMSE; TrailMaking Task A: TMT-A; Word Recall) and psychosocial (Patient Health Questionnaire: PHQ-9)indicators. Multilevel modelling was used to index initial levels (at baseline) and change (spanningup to eight follow-up assessments) in function for measures of global cognition, executive functioning,episodic memory, and depressive symptoms. Notably, no significant declines were observed for MMSEor TMT-A tasks. As expected, episodic memory function continued to decline, with a significantlessening of depressive symptoms and signs observed for the PHQ-9. These results suggest thatdespite the progressive nature of underlying neuropathology for dementia subtypes like Alzheimer'sDisease, preservation of select cognitive functions as well as mitigation of psychosocial comorbidities(depressive symptoms) is possible through participation in an intergenerational choir.
doi:10.18357/tar101201918962 fatcat:olxcyafqjzd3rhsxmuxtnhdoh4