Helping primary care to support people with dementia

Playlist for Life

April 10 2016
3 Castle Court, Carnegie Campus, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland, KY11 8PB

Being able to respond to music is the one thing dementia cannot destroy. Playlist for Life encourages families and caregivers to create a playlist of personally meaningful music on an iPod for people with dementia.

If you have dementia, the music that has been meaningful in your life – even TV theme tunes or Christmas carols – can make you feel better. Having access to that music on an iPod means it is available to you at any time of the day or night.

Family members, either looking after someone at home or visiting them in residential care, find that sharing their loved one’s music can help recover the closeness of a relationship and bring structure to what is often a long day or a difficult visit.

In the video below Sally Magnusson introduces Playlist for Life

Researchers have highlighted the potential for music to alleviate dementia symptoms such as anxiety and agitation, reducing the need for medication. Research has also shown that even the smallest improvements may delay or negate the need for someone with dementia to go into institutional care.

Playlist for Life asserts the following reasons why this approach to dementia is so successful:

  1. If music is personal enough there is an effect on autobiographical memory.  At the very least it brings a sense of safeness and belonging and familiarity in a world that comes to feel increasingly alien to the person with dementia.
  2. Human interaction is what people with dementia desperately need and so frequently lack, often because those who love them become increasingly stumped at how to engage them. Sharing a playlist brings people together.  That in itself is a therapy.
  3. The very act of compiling a unique playlist for somebody means getting to know that person better, understanding the key moments of their life, their tastes and their personality. For those in the healthcare sector this approach embodies all the principles of person-centred care.

Playlist for Life provides online training for healthcare professionals and has made a DVD /download for families  available. Playlist for Life are also collaborating with Glasgow Caledonian University to produce our own research and we encourage all NHS hospitals doing Playlist for Life pilots to evaluate the intervention using emotional touchpoints.

Playlist for Life are developing an app with Glasgow Caledonian University to deliver a personal music intervention from diagnosis to end of life. It will be informed by robust research evidencing the impact of personal music on the wellbeing of those living with dementia. Funded by Edinburgh & Lothians Health Foundation and the Gordon and Ena Baxter Foundation.

Keep in touch with Playlist for Life via social media: Facebook | Twitter | Vimeo

Share this page