Music therapy in dementia and end-of-life care: A report from Israel — Ayelet Dassa

Special feature | Music therapy in dementia and end-of-life care: Mediterranean perspectives

Volume 12 (2) 2020 – Report (first published on 8 June 2020)

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Music therapy in dementia and end-of-life care: A report from Israel

Ayelet Dassa

Music Department, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel


Music therapy was formalised in Israel in the early 1980s with the opening of academic training programmes, and has developed tremendously since then, with approximately 700 music therapists listed. While still fighting for legislative status as a profession, music therapists work with diverse populations in different settings. The latest national survey revealed therapists prefer to work with children or adolescents and are less enthusiastic about working with older adults (only 5.8%). This is a serious concern due to the growing numbers and needs of the elderly population in the country. There are approximately 150,000 people with dementia, and the need for non-pharmacological treatment highlights the importance of music and the demand for music therapists. In recent years, music therapy training programmes have placed more emphasis on working with the elderly than they did in the past. This change has occurred gradually due to increasing need in the field, more awareness of age-related conditions, and also due to the fact that more faculty members have expertise in these fields. Nowadays, more music therapists have started working with people with dementia, and more music therapy research students choose to focus on the topic in their work. The scope of palliative services provided in Israel has also been improved in recent years, but it is still limited. Considering the needs of the population, it is important to further develop the field of music therapy in the care of elders in Israel.


music therapy, report, Israel, dementia, end-of-life care


Ayelet Dassa, music therapist, PhD, Music Therapy MA programme director at Bar-Ilan University. She teaches in different geriatric training programmes. She has been working with people with dementia for the past 23 years, and also has experience with stroke patients, Parkinson’s disease and elderly with chronic psychiatric disorders. She developed a programme for caregivers to use music in aid of caregiving and has established and supervised the Art Therapies Department (music, art and drama) at the Israeli Medical Center for Alzheimer’s. Her research focuses on the effect of music on people with dementia and their families in nursing home settings and at home. []