Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Interdisciplinary Health Programs

First Advisor

Ben Atchison

Second Advisor

Edward Roth


According to the Alzheimer’s Association (2016), Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is diagnosed every 66 seconds resulting in this disease being the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. Among other signs and symptoms, agitation is one of the most challenging symptoms that patients and caregivers must try to control using nonpharmacological therapies or prescribed pharmacological treatments. Among many professions, music therapy has been used to specifically lower the levels of agitation in AD patients. Live music, “sing a long’s”, using instruments, and listening to a song of the patients’ choice have all been shown to reduce agitation behaviors as measured by the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI) scale. As it is estimated that by the year 2050, that 16 million people will have been diagnosed with AD, it is important to look at how to reduce agitation levels without the additional side effects of pharmaceutical medications. This literature review will explore evidence based literature supporting how music therapy is an effective treatment of lowering agitation levels for adults with Alzheimer’s Disease. In addition, personal experiences using music to reduce agitation is presented with a description of the role of a music therapist, and the settings in which they practice.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access