DOI: 10.1002/alz.080784 ISSN: 1552-5260

A Music Based Intervention: “Stay with Me” Results Reveal Challenges and Opportunities related to Burden in Family Caregivers of People with ADRD

Kendra Ray, Mary S Mittelman
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Neurology (clinical)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Health Policy
  • Epidemiology



Family caregivers of home‐based people with ADRD took part in a 6‐week psychoeducational music‐based intervention, facilitated by a board‐certified music therapist. Caregivers identified care recipients’ strengths and needs related to symptoms of ADRD. In the following weeks, caregivers learned how to incorporate music‐based activities during their care. This included caregiver singing, adding background music to bath/shower routines, creating personalized playlists, the use of music for sundowning, etc. A concurrent, mixed methods approach was employed. The Short Zarit Burden Interview (12 item) was completed at baseline and follow‐up. During week 6, in small groups ranging from 2 – 6 persons, family caregivers (n = 20) rewrote the lyrics of Stand by Me, using a fill‐in‐the‐blank template.


A content analysis of rewritten lyrics revealed a focus on themes. A paired samples t‐test was performed to determine changes in burden. To merge the lyrics and burden scores, a joint display analysis was performed. A box plot of mild to high burden was created to demonstrate how the post‐test scores were distributed across levels of burden accompanied by a descriptive display of the most dominant lyrics that reflected each level.


Following the music‐based intervention, a paired samples t‐test found that caregiver burden reduced significantly from baseline (from M = 20.73 ± 6.72 to M = 16.1 ± 4.89; p = .000) indicating that caregiver participation in the 6‐week workshop contributed to perceived reduced burden. Post‐tests and box plot showed most caregivers (80%) scored with mild to moderate burden following the study. The results from content analysis of the lyrics described caregivers’ desire to persevere without fear, issues of falling or failing (a replica of the progression of ADRD) but indicate a desire to stay with the person for whom they are caring.


Burden decreased following participation in the psychoeducational, music‐based intervention. Nevertheless, caregivers cope with a range of emotions related to caring for a person with ADRD, revealing the facilitation of music‐based interventions at home is a useful tool for caregivers but also a need for continuous support. The study is ongoing.

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