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Music Therapy and Dementia: Tips for Creating the Perfect Playlist

Close Up of Senior Woman Wearing Headphones_Franklin Park® Senior Living

Music has a unique ability to connect with people on an emotional level, and for individuals living with dementia, music can have an especially powerful impact. Music can stimulate memories, reduce anxiety, and improve mood, making it an excellent tool for those caring for someone living with dementia.

One effective way to use music as a tool is to create personalized playlists for individuals living with dementia. With memory care communities in San Antonio, Texas, our Franklin Park® Senior Living team understands the power of music, so we are sharing tips for creating the perfect playlist for your loved one living with dementia.

Consider a Person’s Musical Taste & Background

When creating a playlist for an individual living with dementia, it is important to consider their musical preferences and background. The music that a person grew up with or listened to in their younger years is often the most meaningful to them. Consider the individual’s favorite genres, artists, and songs and use those as a starting point for the playlist.

Include Music from Their Past

Using music from the individual’s past can be particularly effective for individuals living with dementia. Music has a powerful ability to evoke memories, and songs from an individual’s past can help to stimulate memories and bring back positive feelings and emotions.

Consider using music from the individual’s teenage or young adult years, as these are often the most formative and memorable years.

Keep the Playlist Short and Simple

When creating a playlist for an individual living with dementia, it is important to keep it short and simple. Long playlists with many songs can be overwhelming and confusing for individuals with dementia. Instead, create a playlist with a limited number of songs, and organize them in a way that makes sense to the individual. For example, you might organize the songs by decade or by genre.

If necessary, you could create multiple playlists for different purposes to keep them shorter – for instance, one for relaxing and one for energizing.

Use Familiar Songs

It is important to use songs that are familiar and recognizable. Songs that your loved one knows and loves are more likely to have a positive impact on their mood and well-being. Avoid using unfamiliar songs or artists you know your loved one does not like.

Consider Tempo and Rhythm

The tempo and rhythm of the music can have a powerful impact on an individual’s mood and emotions. Upbeat and lively music can be energizing and uplifting, while slower and more relaxing music can be calming and soothing. Consider your loved one’s preferences and needs when selecting the tempo and rhythm of the music.

Music can be used to promote relaxation for individuals with dementia. Slow and calming music can help to reduce stress and promote restful sleep. Consider using relaxing music before bed or during periods of rest.

On the other hand, upbeat and energetic music can motivate individuals to move and exercise, which can positively impact their physical health and well-being. As a result, consider using music with an upbeat tempo during exercise or during the day.

Involve Your Loved One in the Creation Process

Involve your loved one in the playlist creation process as much as possible. This can help to promote a sense of ownership and connection to the music and can also help to stimulate memories and positive emotions. Ask them for their input and feedback on the playlist, and adjust it based on their preferences and needs.

Creating personalized playlists can be an opportunity for caregivers to connect with their loved ones and learn more about their musical preferences and background. Additionally, it can provide individuals with dementia with a sense of comfort and familiarity.

It is important to note that music is not a cure for dementia and should not be used as a substitute for medical treatment or professional care. However, when used appropriately and in conjunction with other forms of care, like our memory care services in San Antonio, music can be a valuable tool for improving the quality of life for individuals living with dementia.

Contact the Franklin Park® Senior Living team to learn more about our memory care communities and services.