How to Create Playlists for Those Living with Dementia

Posted By on May 1, 2023

Each of us has special memories attached to music. Music can shape our emotions and memories, whether happy, sad, exciting, or pivotal. Moreover, music is so powerful that researchers have discovered strong links between music therapy and dementia. As a result, many memory care communities utilize the power of music, eliciting memories and improving quality of life, among other health benefits. 

At HarborChase Senior Living, our memory care communities are dedicated to celebrating residents for their past, present, and future. Our dedication to care begins with thoughtful interactions that give residents room to thrive and grow, and music is a powerful tool to improve mind, body, and soul. 

If someone you love is living with dementia, here are some tips for creating playlists and insightful information regarding the power of music therapy and dementia care.

How Does Music Help Those with Dementia?

The auditory system is one of the first functions to develop in the brain and one of the last cognitive functions to disappear, making music a powerful tool for recollecting and reminiscing. 

Music can activate some of the most diverse networks of the brain, including the parts of our minds that determine what factors receive certain emotions, attention, and memory. Music can also cause activation in the motor system, which explains why many people instantly start tapping their feet or nodding their heads to the beat of their favorite song.

How Do I Create a Music Playlist?

“Playlists” originally started on radio stations as the “list” of songs that would be played throughout the day. Currently, music streaming services have reimagined the idea of a playlist, offering users the option to create their own lists of their favorite songs. Instead of having to click around to sift through different albums to find a specific song, you can put your favorite tunes into one cohesive list.

Most music and video streaming services allow users to make their own playlists, but here are a few options to get you started:

  • Spotify: A music streaming platform with over 30 million songs in its library. If you are going to utilize this service, set up a paid subscription so that your loved one can enjoy ad-free listening. While Spotify does have a free version, it features ads and commercials which can distract your loved one from the music.
  • Apple Music: This music and video streaming service was developed by Apple and is available on all Apple products. Each subscription begins with a free trial, so you can see if you enjoy the platform before committing.
  • YouTube: YouTube has millions of music and lyric videos by well-known artists and amateur musicians. Similar to Spotify, YouTube does feature a free version with advertisements in between videos, but the paid subscription allows users to enjoy listening without ads.

What Should I Add to My Loved One’s Playlist?

Do you know your parent’s wedding song? How about their favorite album from high school or a song that defined the year they graduated? Did they have a special song they sang to you as a child? 

By creating a playlist for your loved one living with dementia, ask yourself these and similar questions about their life. Pick songs that are associated with their most significant moments, including any achievements, special occasions, or memorable moments.

After creating your playlist, spend time with your loved one while listening to it. Pay attention to any reactions they have to each song; remember, just as music can evoke positive emotions, it can also evoke negative emotions. If they seem agitated or unhappy by a song, it’s best to remove it from the playlist. By using this time as a trial run, you’ll be able to curate the perfect soundtrack of their life to help them reminisce on their favorite moments.

At HarborChase Senior Living, our specialized memory care communities provide a personal experience for each resident through stimulating activities that promote memories and joyful experiences. By delivering exceptional care and forming meaningful connections, our goal is to help residents celebrate each and every day.

We invite you to visit our website and find a HarborChase memory care community near you!