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Developing an Intergenerational Music Program Delivered by Adolescents to Older Adults with Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia

Dorris, Jennie L (2023) Developing an Intergenerational Music Program Delivered by Adolescents to Older Adults with Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The number of older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias (AD+ADRD) is rapidly increasing. AD+ADRD can dramatically alter the cognitive, emotional, and social aspects of a person’s life. Music is a unique nonpharmacological intervention that has been shown to support these critical areas for people living with AD+ADRD. While early studies suggest that music could be a powerful modality, music has been part of science’s replication crisis.

The focus of this dissertation had three aims: First, we conducted a comprehensive review of the literature related to active music for older adults living with AD+ADRD and classified music activities used. We determined that active music supported cognitive functioning in older adults living with AD+ADRD and showed promise to support emotional well-being.

Second, we assessed the potential of adolescent musicians to deliver Project Unmute, a digital active music intervention for older adults living with AD+ADRD. To assess the fidelity of the intervention, the research team measured attendance, preparation of the intervention, and adherence in delivering the intervention. The eight adolescents achieved 100% attendance, 100% preparation, and 100% adherence. This research suggests that adolescent musicians have the potential to administer a well-defined music intervention with high adherence and that they attend and prepare for the intervention training sessions.

Third, we conducted qualitative in-depth interviews with the adolescent participants to create an understanding of their characteristics and experiences. For experiences, adolescents reported decreased performance anxiety and an increased ability to think on their feet. Additionally, they reported an increase understanding of AD+ADRD. There is potential for future researchers to explore if adolescents who facilitate such a music intervention experience less performance anxiety as well as more empathy for older adults living with AD+ADRD.

These findings advance our knowledge in the fields of music and rehabilitation to better understand the effects of active music and the potential for adolescents to facilitate music interventions for older adults living with AD+ADRD. These findings have implications for a scalable program of adolescent musicians who can consistently deliver a digital active music program to millions of older adults living with AD+ADRD.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Dorris, Jennie Ljld202@pitt.edujld2020000-0002-1067-7387
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairRodakowski, Juleenjur17@pitt.edujur17
Committee MemberTerhorst, Laurenlat15@pitt.edulat15
Committee MemberRaina, Ketkikdr47@pitt.edukdr47
Committee MemberNeely,
Date: 6 June 2023
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 12 December 2022
Approval Date: 6 June 2023
Submission Date: 30 January 2023
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 125
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences > Rehabilitation Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: dementia; music; Alzheimer's; adolescents
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2023 13:49
Last Modified: 06 Jun 2023 13:49


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