Methods: The current study developed an intervention for cognitively healthy older adults in a nursing home setting to complete a socialization stimulation through a digital storytelling exercise and music training through keyboard lessons. The music training group was compared to and through the socialization group and a control group. Fifteen participants, 65 years of age or older, were recruited in each group (music, socialization, control). Participants were screened for cognitive impairment before the intervention, using the MoCA, to ensure they met inclusion criteria. Participants who met inclusion criteria were tested before, during, and after the intervention using the CLOX screening, used to test executive cognitive functioning older adults.
Results: Using noninvasive and the non-pharmacological nature of the intervention include cost effectiveness and absence of side effects, there preliminary results showed that music training and social engagement were cognitively stimulating and challenging activities that can be used as methods to control level of cognitive challenge. The research showed music has the potential to be a promising beneficial cognitive training method for aging individuals also, to protect them from cognitive decline.
Conclusions and Implications: Cognitive impairment has profound financial implications for our economy and health care system. The findings suggest that assessing healthy cognitive aging within social work, gerontology and any other related field in health are most needed to capture and further assess the effectiveness of many preventions and interventions for healthy brain aging. Future studies could examine not only the music and social engagement interventions but also take into account cultural characteristic for race and ethnic group. Assessing cognitive impairment is essential for social workers in both research and practice including clinical contexts.
This research is currently funded by the Korean American Social Work Educators Association (KASWEA) Junior Faculty Seed Grant affiliated by Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and Institute for Health Innovation Faculty Fellow Branch Award 2019.