Music can play such a significant part of our lives; as a way to reminisce about old times, getting us to move or just to change our mood and tap or hum along to a beat. For caretakers, playing music can be a helpful way to break up the day, enliven a quiet home or as an icebreaker for your loved one to discuss memories an old favorite song conjures up.
Here are a few easy ways to incorporate music into your care:
You need to consider the music or genre that you play. The most powerful choices will be songs that spur positive memories. For example, if your father was a fan of Motown music, music from that era and genre would be a great place to start. Music that is easy to listen to and is engaging often helps too. That includes songs that are easy to dance or clap along to, or ones that your loved one can sing along with. Finding the right songs and artists will take trial and error. You can also use music as a bonding exercise using services like Spotify and Pandora to stream music, utilizing hundreds of playlists to choose from. Using a Streaming services playlist can allow your loved one to explore a genre of music or hear a song from their long ago past they haven’t thought about in decades.
Create a Sing-along
Finding music to sing along to can be exceptionally fun and often takes people out of the moment that they’re in. This can be as simple as choosing a song or two and telling your loved one that you’re going to sing along to it, together. Doing it together is important, as helps reduce any self-consciousness. Even suggest your loved one to pick a song they would want to sing-along to and see if you can provide the lyrics to assist.
Drum or Tap Along
Drumming or tapping along to the music helps your loved one “feel” the music as they actively participate and with upbeat music can improve their mood. In Music Therapy, a drum circle is a common approach to encourage further engagement and improve moods. The idea works well for people with dementia, as they retain a rhythmic instinct. Instead of musical instruments you can find makeshift drums in cardboard boxes, pots, pans or anything that creates a sound when you tap your fingers on it.
Develop a Playlist
Once you know the genre of music or specific songs/artists your loved one enjoys, you can develop a playlist that is uniquely tuned to them. You can use speakers or headphone to allow both yourself your loved one to listen to the same music. Give your loved one access to these play lists (even if that means the antiquated process of creating a CD mixtape!) so that they can play their music at their leisure. The creation of the playlist can also be an activity where your loved one has the decision making authority to pick and choose what goes onto the list and can facilitate further conversation on the types and genres of music your loved one prefers.
Playing music is an effective tool to improve the mood and increase rapport with our loved ones. Music can be utilized easily and everyone can engage with it, even seniors who struggle to move can still enjoy music.For caretakers looking for ways to increase connections and support for their loved ones utilizing music during routines and leisure time can be a simple way of assisting with those desires.
Consider consulting our complimentary downloadable guide for Alternative Therapy for Seniors.