25 Jul 2022

Using music to connect with people living with dementia

Playlist for Life is a simple and effective intervention that can make living with dementia easier or make caring for someone more manageable. Our free resources can be used by anyone working in housing to help residents and customers living with dementia or caring for someone to live well at home for longer.

“It's probably one of the very few positive things that has happened in my husband's life since his dementia took over.” Wife and carer

What’s at stake?

Dementia is a long-term condition with more care required as it progresses. Dementia can lead to the loss of ability to speak, difficulty participating in daily activities and inability to recognise people, places and/or time. In terms of carers, dementia caregivers spend more hours per week providing care than non-dementia caregivers and report greater strain on employment, mental and physical health and time for leisure.

There are over 90,000 people living with dementia in Scotland with an estimated 20,000 being diagnosed every year. Two thirds of those living with dementia are living in the community at home. Research also shows, those living in more socially deprived areas are at a higher risk of developing dementia.

About Playlist for Life

Playlist for Life is a music and dementia charity, founded in 2013 by broadcaster and dementia carer, Sally Magnusson. We promote harnessing the benefits of personally meaningful music to improve quality of life of those living with dementia. Sally saw first-hand the impact that music had on her own mother when she was living with dementia and set up Playlist for Life to share this knowledge so that everyone affected by dementia can benefit from the power of music.  

Benefits of using a personalised music playlist 

  • Promotes connection and reduces social isolation
  • Help people to reconnect with families and carers   
  • Greater focus, make day to day tasks or difficult tasks more manageable
  • Reduce changes in behaviour and emotion that may cause distress
  • Reduced burden on caregiver and provide opportunity for respite
  • Can be used to build trust, recover and maintain relationships

Playlist for Life provides free resources and guidance to give people the skills and tools they need to make and use personally meaningful music. Working in housing means you are likely to come into contact with people living with dementia or those caring for a loved one.  You can use these resources to better connect and engage with residents, incorporate into activities, or share them with families that could benefit.

  • Share leaflets and resources with residents
  • Use our conversation starters to better engage with residents
  • Incorporate residents’ playlists into activities to improve engagement
  • Use personally meaningful music to open the door to other conversations

You can find out more about Playlist for Life on our website or request a resource pack be sent to you with this link.

Watch how personalised music has helped people living with dementia with our online video.  

Written by Michael Timmons

Michael is the head of operations at Playlist for Life.