Familiar Karaoke Songs For Therapy And Motivation to Help in Respite Care in the USA

A. Rohrbach, Captain Karaoke®, Musicologist 
June 24th, 2017

Table of Contents

    • Studies on Respite Care 
    • Cognitive skills 
    • Speech skills 
    • Stress Reduction 
    • Physical Skills 
    • Social Skills 


The burdens experienced by care givers is likely to increase in the context of ageing demographics in the USA, as Baby Boomers begin to enter retirement facilities. The movement towards more home based care for those with long term, chronic or palliative illness may increase drastically with diminished health care as well. This research article gives an overview of care giving and support interventions with an outline of evidence base in respite care improvements using the benefits of the Singing Plus® system which utilizes familiar karaoke songs and Word Skillz® memory cards for therapy, motivation, and an improved health and cognitive benefits in a unique, natural method.


Respite is a planned or emergency care given to a child or an adult with special needs in order to provide temporary relief to family care givers who are caring for the child or adult 

There are approximately 50 million people who are caring at home for family members including elderly parents, and spouses, as well as children with disability and/or chronic illness in the United States. Many of the people would be admitted permanently in health care institutions or facilities in the absence of home-care. New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have increased by over 50 per cent in the past fifteen years in the United States, and also accounts for the majority of cases of dementia. Although the causes of Alzheimer’s are unclear, one of the reasons for the increase is Americans are living longer, with estimations suggest that one of every ten Americans age 65 and older has the condition.

Studies on Respite Care

According to research by Dyches, et al., (2016), 122 single mothers of children with autistic spectrum disorder were asked to complete questionnaires concerning respite care, daily hassles/uplifts, depression, and caregiver burden. More than half (59.8%) accessed respite care, which was provided for 1 hour per day, often by multiple sources (41%), such as grandparents and community agencies; most were satisfied with this care. The study found that most mothers (77%) were at risk for clinical depression. 

One aspect that deserves attention is the case of caregiver fatigue, which can contribute to negative health outcomes and a decrease in caregiver health. Respite is an invaluable resource for caregivers experiencing high levels of stress from the burden that is associated with their duties. Respite care provides the primary family caregiver with reliable care options while they engage in self-care and tend to other family, social and community roles that are needed to help maintain friendships, social activities and balance in one’s life. Respite care also functions to enrich a family’s general wellbeing and stability and nurses on the front line of family care can understand the impact of caregiver fatigue. A reduction in burden and depression as well as improvements in reported health problems is often reported by caregivers who use respite (Arksey, et al, 2004). 

While uplifts were negatively correlated with depression, hassles and caregiver burden were positively correlated with depression. Respite care was positively related to daily uplifts, and uplifts mediated the relationship between respite care and depression. (Dyches TT, Christensen R, Harper JM, Mandleco B, Roper SO, 2016). 

Another study by Jiska C., et al. (2010) on use of stimuli to improve rate of health recovery among those receiving respite care (with symptoms of agitation) took into account pharmacological intervention approach which posits that medication can be an effective treatment for agitation, but the level of effectiveness is moderate at best, and the potential for side effects are substantial. (Jiska Cohen-Mansfield, Marcia S. Marx, Maha Dakheel-Ali, Natalie G. Regier, Khin Thein, and Laurence Freedman, 2010). In contrast, studies have shown that non-pharmacological interventions can be effective in decreasing agitation without the risk of the potential side-effects of medication, while simultaneously address the underlying unmet needs of the older person. (Jiska Cohen-Mansfield, Marcia S. Marx, Maha Dakheel-Ali, Natalie G. Regier, Khin Thein, and Laurence Freedman, 2010) 

As most nursing home residents spend much of their time unoccupied, a significant portion of their agitation is attributable to unmet needs related to boredom and confusion. Consequently, many non-pharmacological interventions offer a wide variety of ways to engage older persons with dementia and provide them with enjoyable ways to pass the time. (Jiska Cohen-Mansfield, Marcia S. Marx, Maha Dakheel-Ali, Natalie G. Regier, Khin Thein, and Laurence Freedman, 2010) 

Music has shown positive effects in decreasing agitation. These studies found that music successfully reduced aggressive and negative behaviours’ in various settings and during specific activities, such as bathing and mealtimes. Additionally, music therapy, which included singing, playing instruments, and dancing, was reported to result in a significant decrease in agitation. (Jiska Cohen-Mansfield, Marcia S. Marx, Maha Dakheel-Ali, Natalie G. Regier, Khin Thein, and Laurence Freedman, 2010). 

Music is a highly versatile and dynamic therapeutic modality, lending itself to a variety of music therapy techniques used to benefit both those living with life-threatening illnesses and their family members as well as their care givers. (O’Kelly J. , 2002). It has the ability to take someone back in time, evoke memories and feelings from the past. Hearing and singing along a familiar tune can offer comfort and cheer during times of sadness, and can even turn a bad mood around almost instantly. (Music Therapy for Seniors, 2014).


Music therapy has been proven to help those challenged health-wise to restore and maintain their health as well as help them recall memories and fight depression. (Music Therapy for Seniors, 2014). 

The older American act of 1992 defined the use of rhythmical intervention specifically selected by a music therapist to accomplish the restoration, maintenance, or improvement of social or emotional functioning, mental processing, or physical health of a diseased or older individual. 

This therapy is indicated for its benefits such as; improvement of cognitive skills, enhancement of speech, stress reduction, enhancement of physical skills as well as social skills. (Music Therapy for Seniors, 2014)

A Better Alternative

Cognitive skills 

Music can help those involved to help process their thoughts clearly, which has the effect of maintaining and improving memories. Many people associate music with past events, and by just hearing a familiar song, this can evoke a memory even many years after an event. For dementia patients, music from their childhood or young adult years has proven to be effective in obtaining a positive response and involvement, even when the patient can no longer communicate. (Music Therapy for Seniors, 2014) 

Speech skills 

Music therapy has been proven to help older adults and children with mental disabilities answer questions, make decisions, and speak clearer. It can help slow the deterioration of speech and language skills in dementia patients; studies have shown that even when an Alzheimer’s patient loses the ability to speak, they can still recognize and even hum or sing their favorite song. 

Stress Reduction 

Some caregivers have difficulty managing their aging loved one’s stress and agitation. Playing music they enjoy can help relax and ease the aggressive behaviours. Slow songs like ballads and lullabies can help prepare your loved one for bed or deal with changes to their routines that may cause agitation. 

Physical Skills 

Music can inspire movement in those receiving the therapy. With music comes dancing, after all. Music and dancing promote coordination and can help with walking and endurance. Even if your loved one is not mobile, music can inspire toe tapping and clapping, thus getting the blood flowing once again. (Music Therapy for Seniors, 2014) 

Social Skills 

Increased social interaction with caregivers and others is another benefit music therapy can offer to those involved. It encourages bonding with others, which in turn can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and depression. (Music Therapy for Seniors, 2014).


The process involves communication and inquiry of the favorite artists, musicians or even genre. By utilizing linguistic skills that seniors acquired in their youth with the cognitive learning of crosswords puzzles, the concept of Word Skillz® memory cards is enhanced for each individual to sing a familiar song that may include reviving old memories. By using familiar songs in a new karaoke atmosphere, Singing Plus® can be very stimulating and satisfying to both group and individual therapies where any memory issues may be an issue. These steps will show improved social skills and better cognitive awareness, which will enhance the individual’s lives for an improved quality of life. 

 Above all, it can be a more enjoyable way for receiving respite care for the patient, and a means of bonding between them and the care givers.


Anonymous, (2017), With aging population, death rates from Alzheimer’s are on the rise according to new reports, Relaxnews (AFP). 
Arno, P., (2006), Respite care in the USA. Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Albert Einstein College of Medicine. 
Dyches TT, Christensen R, Harper JM, Mandleco B, Roper SO. (2016). Respite Care for Single Mothers of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. PubMed Journals . 
Jiska Cohen-Mansfield, Marcia S. Marx, Maha Dakheel-Ali, Natalie G. Regier, Khin Thein, and Laurence Freedman. (2010). Can Agitated Behavior of Nursing Home Residents with Dementia be Prevented With the Use of Standardized Stimuli? J Am Geriatr Soc.  
Music Therapy for Seniors. (2014, May 21). Retrieved June 3, 2017, from American Senior Communities: https://www.ascseniorcare.com/music-therapy-seniors/ 
O’Kelly, J. (2002). Music Therapy In Palliative Care. International Journal of Palliative Care , 130-136. 
O’Kelly, J. (2008). Saying It in Song: Music Therapy As a Carer Support Intervention. PubMed . 
Strawderman, M., (2016), Caregiver Fatigue and the Importance of Respite, Virginia Nurses Today.