If you don’t have regular access to the internet, then downloading music is probably the best option for you. If you do have regular access to the internet and would like access to a large music library, have a look at our guidance on streaming.
Choosing an MP3 player to listen to your music
An MP3 player is a small music player you can carry with you wherever you go, allowing people with dementia to carry a playlist of personally meaningful music with them at all times without having to connect to the internet.
MP3 players are relatively easy to use, but many people with dementia will need some support from a carer to get the most out of it. Playlist for Life worked with 29 people living with dementia and their family carers to carry out testing on commonly available players. Specific models come and go so here are a few top tips we discovered from our testing:
MP3 players will come at a range of prices. When deciding how much money to spend, the most important thing is to purchase a device you think you or the person you are buying for will be able to use. The players we tested ranged from £10- £30 .
The smaller the player the more portable it is. However, players with small controls and buttons may be more difficult to use due to impaired visibility or motor skills. If you think this could be an issue, try to choose a player with larger buttons and more visible controls. If the person using the player has a visual impairment, RNIB can recommend players that may be more suitable for their needs.
Some players will have a screen that allow the user to view and select certain songs. However, some people with dementia found the viewing screens and navigating menus confusing. A simple MP3 player without a screen may be best for people whose dementia is more advanced or those who are unconfident with technology. A player with a display may be best for people who have previously used an MP3 player or smartphone.
Most MP3 players will come with in-ear headphones but we recommend buying more comfortable over-ear headphones. If you or the person you are purchasing for has a hearing impairment, RNID can give guidance on tools to better enjoy your music.
The players don’t come with any songs, so if you don’t have any on a computer already you’ll need to buy some from an online music store.
Make sure to recharge the battery regularly. Most MP3 players will only come with a cable to plug into your computer. You’ll need to buy a USB mains adapter if you don’t have a computer to charge the device from.
The splitter cable allows two people to listen to the music player at the same time. You can plug the splitter cable into your device and then connect multiple sets of headphones. You can purchase a splitter cable from Amazon or Argos.
Below are links to the devices included in our testing project. Prices of these devices may have changed since the project. Some of the players tested are no longer available to purchase, so we have included similar model types.
Bush 8GB MP3 Player – this device may be best for people who have previously used an MP3 player or smart phone.
Groov-e POP 8GB MP3 Player – this device was not tested during our project, however it has similar functionality to the Bush 4GB MP3 Player tested. It may be best for people whose dementia is more advanced or
those who are less confident with technology.
For players designed for people with a visual impairment, the RNIB recommend a range of devices, which you can view here.
View our full review of the devices we tested here.
How to download music onto your MP3 Player
There are various different music stores that you can download music from, such as Amazon, iTunes and more. Be aware that you cannot transfer music from a streaming platform like Spotify, YouTube or Amazon Music onto most MP3 players and even if you have a monthly Amazon Music streaming subscriptions, you will still need to buy and download songs separately to put onto an MP3 Player.
The most commonly used music store is Amazon. If you have made purchases on Amazon before, then buying music is much the same. Use the search function to find the tune you want, put it in your basket and pay.
Here are a few videos that explain how to download your purchased songs: