5 Tips for Using Music at Your Next Visit

5 Tips for Using Music at Your Next Visit post page

By Online Dementia JournalJune 17th, 2021

5 Tips for Using Music at Your Next Visit


by Mary Sue Wilkinson,

Founder of Singing Heart to Heart and Author of “Songs You Know by Heart: A Simple Guide for Using Music in Dementia Care”

Is the world opening up where you live? I hope so! For many people, it has been a long time since they were able to visit loved ones face-to-face. Thankfully, as more and more people are vaccinated, it’s likely that old friends and family members will want to resume their visits. After such a long stretch of being away, I wouldn’t be surprised if folks are a little nervous or even hesitant to do so. They may not be sure how they should act, what they should do, or what to say.

You know what I’m going to say next don’t you? Let music help make the visit more relaxed, happier, and more meaningful – for everyone. Below are five tips for how to include music when visiting people living with dementia.

Tip #1 – When Words Fail, Music Speaks

When conversations are difficult, or even impossible, turn to music. You may not be able to talk with each other, but you can still enjoy music together.

Music can be the great equalizer. Singing together and listening to music can bring happiness regardless of skill or memory.

Tip #2 – Bring Music With You

Plan ahead and bring music with you to your visit. Select holiday music if appropriate, or music popular when the person living with dementia was young. Share it by saying, I brought some music for us to enjoy together.

You may share songs on your phone, or perhaps even use some sing along videos. Consider bringing a CD player. In fact, if the person you are visiting does not have a CD player in their room, could you purchase one as a gift?

Tip #3 – Sing Well Known Songs

Sing well-known and simple songs together, such as You Are My Sunshine or My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean. Or, choose well-known holiday songs. Holiday songs, including patriotic music, often evoke the strongest responses from people, bringing a powerful connection. Even singing one or two songs will lift spirits – for everyone.

I have two CD collections of well-known songs for sale in Teepa’s care store. Songs You Know by Heart and Folk Song Favorites for Young and Old. If a download works better for you, you can get that on my website at SingingHeartToHeart.com. If your loved one asks for a song you don’t have ready, try searching YouTube to find it quickly.

Tip #4 – Involve Your Children and Young People

If possible, involve your children or grandchildren in planning a musical visit. Give them the job of figuring out what was popular when your loved one was in their 20’s and 30’s. And then ask them to download some of that music to play during the visit.

If your children or grandchildren have a smartphone, ask them to create a special playlist. Also, ask if they have a wireless speaker, they could bring along on the visit to improve the sound quality of the music.

Tip #5 – Add Energy

As your loved one is able, engage them physically with the music. Add some energy and fun to your musical time together by patting and clapping to the beat. Dance together, either standing or sitting and holding hands.


Even if the person living with dementia no longer remembers you or others who visit, they will remember how you made them feel. Using music when visiting can build connections, spark memories, and create moments of joy.

Note: Thanks to Eric Kolb from Songs and Smiles for helping to edit this article

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