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A guide to using music apps for dementia — what you need to know to get started.

caregiver using tablet app for dementia engagement

How can you use music apps to help a loved one with dementia?

Setting up apps with meaningful music is a great way to support loved ones with dementia and their caregivers. This article provides simple suggestions for getting started using apps for music engagement.

Music Apps for Dementia

Helping care partners enhance engagement, provide comfort

Personally meaningful music has been shown to help people with dementia relax, converse, and feel more like themselves. Specific artists or songs can trigger enjoyable memories and uplifting emotions.

Exploring the listener's favorite music may require some experimentation. Music apps make listening to a variety of genres and artists simple. Friends and family members can set up music apps to support loved ones with dementia and their caregivers.

youtube app icon

YouTube for Dementia Care

A powerful tool for music discovery & reminiscing

YouTube offers the world's largest collection of online music and videos. There are billions of songs available for free on YouTube, and they span every imaginable genre and time period.  

The YouTube app is especially helpful for dementia because it engages the listener through audio and video. The video component can help spark memories and create more immersive experiences.  


How can the YouTube app help care teams:  

  • Access YouTube videos on a variety of devices - Care partners can access YouTube.com on smartphones, tablets, computers, and smart TVs. To get the most out of the video experience, use a tablet or connect your device to a TV for viewing videos.


  • Watch live music videos - Search for a video of the listener's favorite artist performing. Care partners can even specify a certain time period or venue to help with reminiscing. For example, search "Ella Fitzgerald in concert 1960s" or "Frank Sinatra on the Tonight Show".  


  • View slideshows of artist or bands - Search for a slideshow of a favorite artist or band on YouTube. These videos are often set to popular songs and show a variety of images throughout the years. For example, search "Beatles slideshow" or "Johnny Cash slideshow".


  • Play songs with lyrics - Studies shows that singing can enhance cognitive function for people living with dementia. Care partners can encourage singing by initiating the song. Videos with lyrics can help prompt people living with dementia and their care partners.


  • Listen to greatest hits albums - Many artist's greatest hits are available via a single YouTube video. While playing a greatest hits album, care partners can note the songs that the listener likes best.

How to view slideshows of famous artists on YouTube

Search for videos that include music and photographs

Video slideshows can help people with dementia and their care partners reminisce. For many people that are living with memory loss, memories from the past are easier to discuss than recent happenings.

Video slideshows can stimulate fond memories with familiar music and images. Slideshows can be especially enjoyable if the listener has a special connection to a particular artist or band.


Search for a Slideshow

Search for a slideshow video for an artist or band.

youtube app music slideshows for dementia

How to play songs with lyrics on YouTube

Play videos with lyrics to encourage singing

Even in the later stages of dementia, many people can still recite the lyrics to their favorite songs. Singing activates brain regions connected to memories and emotions. Those regions of the brain are also among the last affected by the progression of dementia.

Research shows that singing can help people with dementia become more alert and conversant. Studies also indicate that regular singing helps improve the quality of life for those with dementia and their care partners.  

Care partners can encourage singing by initiating the song. Playing videos with lyrics can help care partners learn the lyrics to the care recipient's favorite songs.


Search for Videos with Lyrics

Search for the listener's favorite songs. Add the phrase "with lyrics" to your search query.

music videos with lyrics for dementia

How to listen to greatest hits albums on YouTube

Explore the most popular songs from a specific artist or band

Dementia care teams can benefit from exploring music preferences and making note of meaningful songs. Playing an artist's greatest hits albums can help with that process.

Care partners should look for clues while playing greatest hits. Does a specific song result in conversation, singing, toe-tapping, or other movements? Make note of the songs that the listener enjoys the most.


Search for a Greatest Hits Album

Search for the listener's favorite artist or band. Add the phrase "greatest hits" to your search.

greatest hits albums for dementia engagement

Amazon Music for Dementia Care

A free app for saving, listening to personalized music

The Amazon Music app makes it easy for care teams to save a care recipient's music preferences. The app can be set up for free, and makes sharing listening preferences simple.


How can the Amazon Music app help care teams:





  • Access music playlists on any smartphone, tablet, computer, or Alexa voice speaker - The Amazon Music app is available to download for free on iPhone, iPad, Android, and Amazon Fire tablets. You can access the Amazon Music service on your computer at music.amazon.com. Amazon Music playlists and songs can also be played via Amazon Echo speakers.

How to set up the Amazon Music app

Use your Amazon.com account to set up the Amazon Music app

Amazon Music is a free app, but you will need an Amazon.com account to start using it. For those that have an Amazon.com, you can use your email address and account password to log into the Amazon Music app.

If you do not have an Amazon.com account, you can create one for free. Follow the steps below to download and set up the Amazon Music app on your smartphone or tablet.


1. Download the App

Download the Amazon Music app on iPhone, iPad, or Android device.

2. Log into the App

Use an Amazon.com account to log into the app. If you do not have an Amazon account, you can create one for free.

3. Amazon Unlimited Ad

An advertisement for Amazon's Unlimited Music subscription service may appear. Tap the X in the upper right to dismiss.

amazon music signup screenshot

How to save favorites in the Amazon Music app

Save a list of your loved one's favorite artist

Personalization is key to music's therapeutic benefits for people living with dementia. Music discovery is an ongoing process. Over time, care partners will learn which artists and songs provide comfort. 

Saving favorite artists to an Amazon Music profile will make it easier for family members, friends, and care professionals to work as a team. Follow the steps below to save artist preferences.

1. Find Artists

From the home page, tap the Find button to search for specific artists or bands.

amazon music app search screenshot

2. Select a Favorite Artist

Search for the name of a favorite artist or band. Select the appropriate artist or band from the search results.  


amazon music app - artist profile screenshot

3. Save Artist as a Favorite

Tap the Favorite button to save the artist preference to the listener profile.


4. Save Additional Artists

Repeat steps 1-3 to add new artists to favorites. 


amazon music app - favorite artist screenshot

How to listen to music by a favorite artist

Listen to free music stations with your loved one

Background music can help care teams create a comfortable and relaxing environment. Experiment by playing music during visits or during daily activities.

Playing a music station is a quick and easy way to listen to personalized music for free. Follow the instructions below to play an artist station.


1. Start Station

Tap the Start Station button to listen to music by the selected artist.

The Amazon Music station will play music by the artist and other similar artists. There are occasional, short advertisements in between songs.  


amazon music app - listen to station

How to share an Amazon Music profile

Share music preferences with other members of your dementia care team

Music can help caregivers with routines. Care teams benefit from making music part of the daily care plan. Playing a specific type of music at the same time every day can help establish a familiar and comfortable pattern.

Music can also help enhance family visits. Playing music in the background during visits can spark conversation and engagement.

You can share the music profile with family caregivers, professional caregivers, or visitors. Before sending, make sure the person has the Amazon Music app. Follow the steps below to share your loved one's music profile.


1. Open Profile

From the home page, tap the Profile button in the upper left.

amazon music app - profile

2. Edit Profile

Tap the Edit button to change profile settings for sharing.

amazon music app - edit profile

3. Set to Public

Select the option for a Public profile. Setting your profile to public will allow other Amazon Music users to view favorite artists and playlists.

Once finished, tap the Save button.

amazon music app public profile

4. Share Your Profile

From the profile page, tap the Share button to view options for sending others a link to your Amazon Music profile.

amazon music app share profile

5. Sharing Options

Send others a link to the music profile by email or via a text message.

amazon music app - share sheet

How to purchase Amazon Music albums, songs

Save meaningful music for personalized playlists and offline listening

People that are living with dementia often find comfort in specific songs and albums. 

While listening to artist stations, songs are played at random. Listening to stations can be enjoyable and help with music discovery, but care teams benefit from saving specific songs.

When you purchase music on Amazon.com, tracks automatically appear in the Amazon Music app. Once in the app, you can play them at any time.

To purchase music, go to Amazon.com on your computer or via the Amazon mobile app. Follow the steps below to purchase specific songs or albums.


1. Search for Music 

Adjust the search option, by clicking the All button.

search for amazon music for dementia

2. Filter for Digital Music

Select Digital Music from the search filter options.

amazon digital music search for dementia

3. Submit Search 

Search for a specific artist, album, or genre.

amazon music search results for dementia playlists


4. Preview Album 

Select an album to view songs:  

  • Preview songs by clicking the number to the left.
  • Click the song price or cart button to purchase an individual song.
  • Click Buy MP3 Album or Add to MP3 Cart button to purchase all the songs on the album.
purchase amazon music for dementia playlists


5. Proceed to Checkout 

Open your MP3 Cart and select the option for Proceed to Checkout.

add songs to amazon music cart

6. Place Order 

Review the items in your cart and click Place your order when ready to submit. 

order digital music on amazon for dementia

7. View Purchase Music

In the Amazon Music app, tap the My Music button (at the bottom right) to view purchased music.

Use the buttons across the top to view purchased music organized by artist, albums, or songs.

music purchases for dementia playlists in amazon music app

Supporting Caregivers with Music Apps

Use music apps to involve others in dementia care

Family caregivers often feel overwhelmed. They may lack the time or resources to set up music apps for their loved ones.

Other family members or friends can provide support by setting up music apps. If you are the primary family caregiver and feel overwhelmed, consider asking a friend or family member to help with music setup. Providing others with a specifc task that can benefit your loved one is a great way to grow your care team.

If you are not the primary family caregiver, use music as a tool to get involved. Play YouTube videos during a visit, or set up an Amazon Music account to start saving meaningful music. These small acts of kindness can provide moments of joy for your loved one living with dementia and their care partners.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MICHAEL POTTEIGER

Michael is the co-founder of Generation Connect - a company that develops mobile apps for home care providers. He worked with families that were caring for loved ones with dementia to develop Care Team Connect™ - a mobile app for dementia caregivers.  

Learn more about our approach to help people living with dementia and their caregivers.

CONTACT US

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tel: (800) 895-2919


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