Can you remember your first boyfriend or girlfriend?
Do you remember what “Your Song” was?
When you hear that song come on the radio, do you automatically think of that person or that time in your life?

These long-term memories will stay with us throughout our lives.

For those with dementia, these memories are so important and there are ways for our loved ones to get in touch with them through music.

Someone with dementia may not recognize their children or spouse, they may not be able to tell you the year or the current president or be able to tell you what they ate for breakfast. However, if you ask your loved one what their wedding song was or what the lyrics are to “You Are My Sunshine” or many other popular or spiritual songs from the 1920’s-1960’s they will probably be able to share them with you as long as their speech is not effected by their disease.

If you are caring for a loved one with dementia, you can incorporate music into your daily routine. Try these exercises to help get in touch with musical memories:

  1.  “Name That Tune”- Hum the melody and see if your loved one can guess the song.
  2. “Finish the Lyrics”-Sing “Tea for two and two for tea, Me for you and _________________” and let your loved one finish the lyric.
  3. Thumb through old photos while listening to songs from the same time period.
  4. Ask your loved one to sing with you, or sing you their favorite song.

If the person you are caring for is able to have conversation, then ask them who their favorite singers are and you can put together a playlist just for them on your iPod or iPhone. If they are not able to speak, then put the music on in the background at a low level while touching their hand and smiling.

This is also helpful during sun-downing or at times when your loved one may be a little agitated or feeling down. Use the playlist you have created while you are setting the table and preparing dinner or on a Sunday morning while you are reading the paper together.

Incorporating music into your daily routine will bring joy to your loved one and help them stay in touch with beautiful memories of their loved ones.

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