Dementia Care Tool 2 – Music

Music has the power to make your daily work easier. So make use of the power of music!

  Tool 2 shows you how you can turn someones personal favorite music into: A care aid

- A wellbeing bringer

- And a help engine for the brain.


  Your benefits:

- Care operations running easier

- Reduced problem behavior

- More work pleasure

What you need to know?:
 People with dementia feel intuitively what their care worker wants or is trying to achieve
 when music is heard during care actions.

How does music do this?

One music stimuli activates 17 trillion brain cells which activate and connect the different parts of the brin together.

Those connections are so very important because you can say, we are our connections.

For everything we do thousands of connections must be made in our brain. And when through dementia or another limitation connections are not made easily or not running well, you can help the brain enormously by listening to music.

You could say:
 Music creates a brain bypass by a brain roadblock!

The benefits for nursing:

- Reduced unrest and problem behavior

- All care operations run better & easier

- Contact & Conversation piece


The benefits for people with dementia:

- Feeling of safety, home, coziness

- Shelter

- Rest in the chaotic brain with dementia

- Orientation, handhold, memories

- Joy & Happiness


How to make this a reality?

Integrating the Care Oriented Playlists, filled with the personal favorite music of the person with dementia, into daily care.


How to find the personal favorite music?

By making use of The Musical Discovery list & The 15-25 Rule

The Music Discovery List

With this questionnaire everybody can track down the personal favorite music of a person with dementia.

Why the 15-25 rule?

All the music we have heard between our 15 and 25 years are deeply rooted in our brain.

So deeply that even dementia can’t destroy these music memories.

Hearing songs from this  period, memories will immediately pop up, opening their whole world from that time.

Try it yourself: Listen to a song from your own 15-25 period and look what happens.


15-25 songs are Tin Openers for the memory

So search & collect the songs which were popular during the 15-25 period of the person with dementia.

These songs does not have to be someone's favorite music!

The songs could  be heard everywhere during his or her 15-25 period.

At home, in school, on the radio in church, in the pub, during dancing lessons, at work.


The Care Oriented playlists

By dividing the  music you have found for the person  through The Care Oriented playlists you easily integrate the power of music into their daily care.

As the playlists connecting with care actions and with the different parts of the day.

I will show you how.

Let’s start early in the morning at the crack of dawn or whenever the person with dementia likes to wake up. Remember the person with dementia is our care guide



We all know the feeling of 'waking up'  in a strange bed, for a split second not knowing where we are. But the next second you know, I am in Spain, Greece or staying with Aunt Bettie. But for people with dementia the next second does not come.

What does come up are questions and feelings of fear. Where am I? What I am doing here? This could lead to calling, shouting or going out of bed in search for answers.

But when a person with dementia wakes up with their own favorite music which creates feelings of home and safety, there is no need for unrest, shouting or going out of bed.

Starting with someone’s personal Waking-up list makes for lesser unrest, lesser problem behavior in the morning.


But remember it is just an impression as the playlist must be filled with the person’s own favorite music.

Showering - Washing - Dressing

The morning ritual is the most stressful part of the day for people with dementia.

Understandable as nobody feels at ease being striped and washed by a stranger.

Imagine a stranger comes into your bedroom,  takes you out of bed and starts undressing you.

I think you would become angry and maybe violent - its understandable. But this is how it feels for a person with dementia.

What can you do?

To avoid aggression, stress and enable the morning ritual to be easier for yourself and for the person with dementia?

- Centering for entering

- Balancing your emotions (see tool 1 )

- Approaching the person with respect & with a smile from the hearth

- Using the personal showering music which activating your 17 trillion care helpers

Tested & Proven

It’s been tested & proven that when people with dementia hear music during care interventions, they feel intuitively what their care worker wants or intends to achieve.

With “Centering Approaching the Music” the whole morning ritual runs easier for you and more pleasantly for the person with dementia.

Bonus benefit:

No stress during the morning ritual causes also lesser unrest and lesser problem behavior during the day.

Singing yourself?

Of course you can also sing yourself, which is really great to do.

I have always sung with my mother during the morning care and we had a lot of fun, singing, washing, laughing. Just give it a try, I am sure it will light up your day as it did mine.

You know it’s just an impression as the playlist must be filled with somebody’s own favorite music for becoming a care aid.

Do you play music during breakfast, lunch, dinner?

People ask me often: Do I have to play music during the meals?

I can’t say, because as every person is unique, so is also every care situation unique. Only by Trial & Error you find out if music is a helping tool during the meals.

If it turns out that music is a helping tool during meals. Make a mixed playlist out of the average music from the 15-25 period of the present residents.

Would be nice to add from every present residents one favorite song in your mixed playlist. Then every residents has his aha moment during the meals.

Exercise music

When people with dementia are regularly in motion daily care actions run lighter, because physical exercise contributes to a better mobility or maintaining of it.

Plus everybody has consciously or unconsciously a longing for being in motion.

So sitting for the whole day could cause unrest and problem behavior. You could avoid this with doing regularly exercises.

Bonus benefit

Reducing nightshift workload as people sleeping better after they have been in motion.

How do you get people with dementia in motion?

With rhythmical music, as rhythmical music brings our body automatically in motion.

Think how often you are tapping your fingers on the rhythm of the music without thinking or knowing it.

It would be great if the Exercising-music is out of the person 15-25 period and contains sing along.

In this way doing exercises becomes fun and an activity where people are looking forward to.

Composing Exercise music for a group - 
Collect  the average 15-25 period of the group members rhythmical music.

Don’t forget those up beat songs everybody knows like Jack the lad, the Can Can etc……..


This is first aid music when a person with dementia is angry, violence, sad or becoming restless in the afternoon(sundowning)

But it is also a great playlist to use by the visitors for making contact or creating conversation piece.

Due to this visits becomes more pleasant, what could lead to more visits, which contribute to a reducing of the workload of the nursing.

Fill this playlist with a mix of music out of someone’s 15-25 period and with his favorite music.

A tip from Rip: waltz rhythm has often a soothing effect.

Example of a remembering Playlist

Just an example because only the music from someone’s own 15-25 period and his own favorite music will bring rest and conversation piece.

Bed time music

Turn on the “Bed time music” before you start undressing, as undressing and the lying in bed will go easier and much prettier in a soothing atmosphere and you know the music activates your 17 trillion care helpers.

Listening to your own favorite “Bed time music” is a wonderful way to fall asleep. 
But “Bed time music” is not only important for bringing people to bed and for falling asleep.

Nursing aid

Music is also a nursing aid for the nightshift, because when a person with dementia wakes up in the night, not knowing where he is. fear and questions could come up: Where I am? What I am doing here? Please help me? This could lead to calling, shouting or going out of bed in search for answers and help. 

But when a person with dementia wakes up in the night and his favorite music is softly playing, providing feelings of safety and home, there is no need for fear, shouting or going out of bed.

One more reason

There is just one more reason for using music in the night. A brain with dementia can handle less and lesser the situation where there is totally no stimuli in a room. 

So when everything is standing still and there is no sound in a room, a brain with dementia cannot cope with that anymore. At that moment the person with dementia must create a stimuli by himself. This could be murmuring, fidgeting, calling, shouting or getting out of bed in search of a stimuli.

But when there is music in the night which is providing a tender stimuli, there is no need for shouting or getting out of bed. So in the night and in the dementia fog, music is literally a lighthouse for people with dementia, creating a stimuli and a shelter.

Music Pillow

When more people sleeping in one room use a music pillow. This is a normal pillow with a little speaker inside and with a connection for a mp3 player. With a music pillow only the person lying on the pillow hears the music and does not bother other residents with it.

What is good “Bed time music”? Every music which gives rest, peace and tranquility

to a person with dementia. This could also be sounds of nature, the sound of a driving train or a burning campfire. Let the person with dementia be your “sound guide”.


Till the end

The brain functions responsible for recognizing & enjoying music will not be affected by the dementia. So people with dementia can find peace and pleasure 
through music till the very end. 

That’s why music is also very important in the end of life care. As music is able to bring comfort, consolation and solace to a dying person.


Hospital nights with music

Two times I was with my mother with Alzheimer’s in a hospital. In those nights I lay in a comfortable chair in front of my mother’s bed. On the nightstand my mother’s “Bed time music” was softly playing.

During those nights my mother often woke up, came half up and started looking around. Then my mother focused in the direction where the music came from. For a while she listen to the music, then slowly she lay her head back on the pillow and fel asleep again.

 My mother searched for the music, found the music and felt safe. That’s why music is a care aid - a wellbeing bringer and a help engine of the brain.

Let we bring music into the NHS dementia care 
Let we make dementia care Fabulous for you
 and for everyone with dementia        

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