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Facilitating Meaningful Music Experiences for Someone Living with Dementia

Music has a remarkable power to evoke emotions, trigger memories, and improve the overall well-being of individuals, particularly those living with dementia. When it comes to adults living with dementia, music therapy can be a valuable tool to enhance their quality of life, evoke positive emotions, reduce social isolation, and foster connections with their past. In this blog post, we will explore effective strategies to facilitate a meaningful music experience for individuals living with dementia.

We have also included some of our decade's playlist resources to give you an idea about what songs may be able to support a meaningful music experience for someone living with dementia.

Individualized Approach

Every one of us has unique preferences and memories associated with music. It is crucial to tailor the music experience to each individual's tastes and background. Engage in conversation with the person, family members or caregivers to gather information about the individual's favourite songs, genres, and artists from their past. Incorporate these preferences into the music therapy sessions to create a personalized and meaningful experience.

Familiarity and Nostalgia

Select music that is familiar to the individual and aligns with their personal history. Songs from their youth or significant life events can evoke strong emotions and memories. Use popular songs from their era, such as hits from the 1940s, 1950s, or any time period that holds significance to them. These familiar tunes can help stimulate cognitive recall and trigger positive emotional responses.

Multi-Sensory Engagement

Enhance the music experience by incorporating multi-sensory elements. Engage multiple senses by introducing instruments, props, or objects related to the music being played. For instance, you could provide percussion instruments like drums or shakers, encouraging the person to participate in rhythm exercises. Additionally, consider introducing aromatherapy with scents associated with certain memories or playing music videos that complement the songs being played.

Rhythm and Movement

Encourage gentle movement or rhythmic activities alongside the music. Physical gestures like clapping, tapping feet, or swaying to the beat can create a sense of connection with the music. Such movements stimulate the brain and foster a deeper engagement with the music experience. If appropriate, encourage individuals to dance or move in a way that feels comfortable to them, as it can provide a joyful and liberating experience.

Singing and Vocalization

Encourage participants to sing along or vocalize to the music, even if they are not able to articulate words clearly. Singing engages different parts of the brain, stimulates memory, and encourages social interaction. Create an inclusive environment where everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves vocally. Singing familiar songs together can also foster a sense of community and shared experiences.

Emotional Connection and Validation

Be attentive to the emotional responses of individuals during the music therapy session. Music can evoke a wide range of emotions, and some songs may trigger nostalgia, happiness, or even sadness. Validate and acknowledge these emotions by creating a safe space for individuals to express themselves. Use gentle and compassionate communication to provide comfort and support, allowing them to process their emotions in a meaningful way.

Music therapy can significantly improve the quality of life for adults living with dementia by facilitating meaningful and emotionally engaging experiences. By taking an individualized approach, incorporating familiarity, engaging multiple senses, encouraging movement, promoting vocalization, and fostering emotional connections, we can create powerful and transformative music sessions for individuals living with dementia.


Georgia is a Registered Music Therapist and joined the Sounding Board team in 2021. A proficient vocalist and guitarist, she is passionate about facilitating personalized, empowering and collaborative music therapy experiences


Georgia has experience working in the community with disabled and neurodiverse adults and children, in neuro-rehabilitation, acute adult and paediatric hospitals, in pediatric oncology, and supporting adults with lived experiences of homelessness and people with complex mental health needs.

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