Individualized Music Intervention for Agitation in Dementia Care and Disaster Resilience

Start time
10:00 AM Pacific
End time
11:00 AM Pacific

Part of the ASA Member Series and presented by ASA’s Network on Environments, Services, and Technologies (NEST) 

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Includes Complimentary CEUs

Persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias experience a progressive decline in their stress threshold, causing increased susceptibility to anxiety, advancing to agitation, and severe catastrophic behaviors. This is important to consider in a disaster, where there can be an unstable environment and unfamiliar surroundings (e.g. emergency shelter) as well as a heightened level of activity. Preparing for all-hazards events must address the special needs of older persons with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, such as non-pharmacological interventions for managing agitation. The types and intensity of interventions may vary for the phases of disaster (pre-event, during the event, immediate post-disaster recovery and long-term recovery).

This web seminar will discuss the Evidence-Based Guideline of Individualized Music for Persons with Dementia —an intervention that succeeds through selecting and playing specific music at the appropriate time. Such music is always selected with ethnicity as an inherent criteria, which will be highlighted through case examples. Individualized music is versatile, and may be used in a variety of settings, such as in an emergency shelter. Following appropriate training, this protocol has been successfully implemented by healthcare professionals, certified nursing assistants and family members. Beyond managing agitation, individualized music has been shown to promote a positive affect and meaningful interaction with others. Free online access to supplemental resources on individualized music intervention for geriatric disaster preparedness and resilience will be provided.

Participants in this web seminar will be able to:

  • Recognize conditions in a disaster situation that may induce agitation in older persons with dementia.  
  • Identify the negative impact of agitation on the older person with dementia;
  • Discuss the conceptual foundation for the effects of stress on persons with Alzheimer’s disease as postulated in the progressively lowered stress threshold;
  • Describe the theoretical underpinning of individualized music in alleviating agitation;
  • List the key elements necessary for success in individualized music interventions for persons with dementia; and,
  • Identify two key elements for the successful implementation of individualized music intervention


Linda A. Gerdner Ph.D., RN, FAAN, has spent the past 25 years developing, testing and refining the use of individualized music as an alternative method for managing agitation in persons with dementia. This theory-based intervention is the impetus for further testing and use by researchers and clinicians in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Sweden, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan.
Melen McBride, Ph.D., RN, FGSA has for more than four decades had an inter-professional career in gerontology, geriatrics, ethnogeriatrics and disaster preparedness. She has written numerous publications, and recently contributed two chapters to the book Disaster Preparedness for Seniors: a Comprehensive Guide for Healthcare Professionals, with editor Charles Cefalu, M.D.