Music can be therapeutic to people with dementia; however, little is known about its effect on the family carers. This project aimed to (1) assess the effects of MP3 player use by a person with dementia on caregivers’ mental health and wellbeing, including their self-care and health-promoting behavior and (2) determine whether MP3 player use increases caregivers’ self-reported capacity to cope with their role.
A pre–post quantitative and qualitative design was used. Carers completed a survey prior to commencing and four weeks after using the player. The survey included validated measures to assess the level of stress and coping among carers. Carers also kept a diary of the way they used the MP3 player. Half of the carers were interviewed about their experiences at the end of the study.
Of 59 people who started using the MP3 player, 51 carers completed the four-week study period and surveys. Use of the MP3 player significantly decreased psychological distress, significantly improved the mental health and wellbeing of carers, significantly increased caregiver self-efficacy to manage symptoms of dementia, and was reported to provide valued respite from the high level of vigilance required for caring for a person with dementia.
An MP3 player loaded with music can be a low cost and relatively simple and effective additional strategy to support families caring for people with dementia in the community.