Listening to music is one of my favorite things to do. I love how a song has the power to overwhelm you with emotion or transport you back in time to a special memory. Truth be told, every time I hear Green Day’s “Time of Your Life” I instantly think of my senior prom (our class song).
We all have songs that are significant to us, and individuals with dementia are no exception. Think of the song that reminds you of your first love or the song that always cheers you up. If we know these things about our person, then we have an excellent opportunity to foster meaningful engagement. Encourage the person to reminisce and tell stories related to the songs they hear. Listening to music is an excellent choice of activity for those with dementia because the individual retains the ability to do this very late into the disease. Even someone who is nonverbal or bed bound can enjoy a beautiful peace of music that is meaningful to him/her. There are some remarkable accounts of individuals in the late stages of the disease that can no longer carry on a conversation but can still sing.
So what makes Pandora and Groove Shark so special? They’re both free and totally customizable. If you’d like to check out Pandora, simply go to pandora.com, create an account, and start creating stations. You can choose a song, artist, or genre for each station. Consider asking the person what their favorite artist is, or select music that you know was popular during their adolescence and adulthood. Timeless pieces, like Christmas carols or religious music, can be meaningful to a wide variety of individuals. You can even pick a station like Sounds of Nature, if you are looking to play soothing, ambient music. Grooveshark.com is another great resource for finding free music online. If you know what songs you want to listen to, you can create your own customized playlist by adding them to your queue. You can also enter in search criteria, such as Oldies, babbling brook, 1950s, etc., to find music that you may want to use.