How to connect through music whilst social distancing

The past few months have been difficult for all of us and everyone has had to adapt to a new way of life. Reports have shown that those living with dementia have been hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic and many will continue to shield even as lockdown restrictions ease.  We know how difficult it is for loved ones to be separated during this period, so we hope to spread some cheer with the power of music. 

Whether you’re caring for a loved one with dementia at home, social distancing or connecting virtually with someone who is shielding, here are some ideas on how to connect through music and bring some joy into their lives. 

1

Brighten up a phone call by discussing music memories

Sometimes it can be hard to keep positive or know what is the ‘right thing’ to say, even when talking to those we’re closest with. That’s ok, and we all feel it sometimes. Why not try using our conversation starters to start a discussion about special memories with a loved one. It’s a great way to bond and for them to remember happy memories and the music attached to them. You could do this over the phone or in-person with your loved one.

2

Enjoy a musical event from the comfort of your couch

Large gatherings like music concerts and trips to the theatre are unlikely to be re-introduced any time soon, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the music from these live events from the comfort of our own homes. Whatever your taste in music, there’s bound to be something for you and your loved one to enjoy online. 

Here are a few free suggestions: 

For the concert loverSonghaven at home 

Songhaven hosts regular dementia-friendly concerts featuring professional classically-trained artists. For the past few months, they have been running ‘at-home’ versions of their live events so that people living with dementia and their carers can continue to experience the joy of professional concerts at home. Visit their website for more information. 

For those who love a singalong: Music in Hospitals and Care 

If you’re interested in getting involved in live music events from the comfort of your home, Music in Hospitals and Care have a whole programme of activities planned this Summer. Their ‘Music and Memories’ interactive sessions support those living with dementia in care homes, dementia units and in the community. Find all their events here

For the festival fan: Glastonbury on BBC iPlayer 

Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary was unable to go ahead as planned this year, but the BBC have uploaded some of the festival’s biggest highlights on to iPlayer for us to enjoy from home. Most of the sets are available to watch until the end of July and can be found here. There’s something for everyone, with sets online from artists such as Dolly Parton, Brian Wilson, Toots and the Maytals and Nile Rogers & CHIC. A particular highlight for the Playlist for Life team was David Bowie’s set from 2000  let’s dance, indeed!  

3

Send your loved one an MP3 music player

You don’t need any new equipment to enjoy your music, and we encourage you to use whatever works best for you  CDs and records are perfect for sharing music memories. However, if you’re unable to visit a loved one, then an MP3 player could be a great way to send them some music. An MP3 player is a small music player that can be carried with someone wherever they 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. This can be great for keeping music playing whilst moving around at home. You can find advice on suitable MP3 players for those living with dementia based on research from Playlist for Life here. 

4

Make a playlist

We saved our favourite for last! We want everyone living with dementia to have their own personal playlist, and for everyone who cares for them to know how to use it. A personal soundtrack can be a lifeline for someone you love or even yourself. It can help calm an anxious mind, bring cheer when someone is feeling low and it can even make time pass quicker. 

Sandra, who cares for her husband David at home, told us this about using a playlist during lockdown: 

“David lives with dementia and has aphasia, which is a communication disorder, meaning he has practically lost his speech. What I find amazing with the playlist is that his speech comes back and he sings along to some of the songs when he listens. I can see that he’s enjoying it and it gives him a real boost. I think the playlists are a great idea for people living with dementia, who can sometimes forget who they are and what they used to enjoy.” 

Ready to get started? There’s lots of guidance on how to make a personal playlist and use it effectively on our resources page.