Healthcare professional? Take a look at our dedicated training site!
Healthcare professional? Take a look at our dedicated training site!

A playlist for your Valentine

Looking for a special gift for a loved one living with dementia this Valentines Day?
There’s no better way to show your love than with a personal ised playlist.

Have you ever made a mixtape or playlist for someone you love? Maybe it was a cassette filled with songs you love and share together, a CD of old favourites or simply a handwritten list of songs and the memory attached to it. You don’t need to be a technology whizz to make a playlist!

Why make a playlist?

Over two decades of scientific research has shown that listening to a personalised playlist can improve the lives of those living with dementia. In fact, listening to music that is personally meaningful has many psychological benefits, meaning anyone can benefit from a playlist.

You could make a playlist for anyone you love or care for: your partner, a family member, or someone who might need some cheering up during lockdown. Playlists can be a great way to connect with someone who is shielding during the pandemic.

Playlist for Life is an absolutely wonderful thing. You pick songs from your own life – it can be any song that you like that means something to you and brings back a memory. When I’m sad or low or feeling grumpy, then Malcolm puts my playlist on and I’m up dancing and jumping and it’s absolutely wonderful.

Carol, who lives with dementia


How do I make a playlist?

It’s easy! Personalised playlists are exactly that: personal. It’s up to you how you want to make and share your playlist, and the great news is that you don’t need any technology to get started. Singing works great too!

Here are our top three tips for building a personalised playlist: 

1. Think about who you want to make your playlist for. What kind of music is important to them? The best songs to use are ones that have memories or emotions attached to them. If you’re not sure which songs are important to your loved one, why not use one of our free resources to get you started? Try our conversation starters or soundtrack of your life booklet.

2. Find the songs or pieces of music you want to include in your playlist. Music is everywhere and part of all our lives. Your loved one’s playlist is as unique as they are. Tracking down the right tunes by exploring their life story means becoming a Music Detective.

Have you heard of the ‘memory bump’? Psychologists have proven that we create more memories between the ages of 10 and 30 than at any other time in our lives. Try tunes from this period in your loved one’s life. Use our 100 Years Book, try our Spotify playlists or visit BBC Music Memories to help find the tunes. 

3. Share your playlist in the way you’re most comfortable with. As we said before, you don’t have to be skilled with technology to create a playlist. You could write the songs and memories in a Valentines card or give your loved one a call, talk about the memories and sing with them.

If you’re more comfortable with technology you could make a Spotify or YouTube playlist and send a link to your loved one, or even buy an inexpensive MP3 player, load the songs on to the player and send it as a gift. Check out our technology guides and advice on dementia-friendly MP3 players for inspiration.

And that’s it! If you need any help building a playlist, don’t hesitate to contact us. Happy playlisting!

Playlist for life is a music and dementia charity. We provide resources, advice and training on building personalised playlists to improve the lives of people living with dementia and those who care for them. Find out more about us.