Music for SeniorsMusic for Seniors

The other day, a classic tune came on the radio and I watched as my Mom sang every verse. That’s when I decided to create a playlist of her favorite songs.

Music holds magic. A great song can conjure up memories or transport your aging loved one back to the good old days. And thanks to re-mastering technology, many hits of the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s are back and better than ever. Take Mom on a trip through time by making her a playlist of hits from her youth. She will thank you for it—and you may even find that you love that old time rock and roll, too.

Music just soothes the soul…

Music is effective treatment for aging adults who suffer from memory loss or dementia. Seniors who have lost the ability to speak might sing or hum along to favorite songs. Even unresponsive elders often light up when they hear a tune from their childhood.

Music ties to emotions in the brain. A great song can enhance memory and thought processing. Seniors may find music helps maintain a positive mood or strengthen bonds with friends and family. Other elders find that music helps increase physical and motor skills as they sing and dance along.

Reminisce about the days of old…

Sit down with her and talk about her favorite styles and songs. Would she rather hear blues or some funky old soul? Ask what music played at her prom, and what she chose for her wedding. What music makes her nostalgic for the good old days? What is her favorite song of all time?

Once you’ve narrowed down what Mom likes, then you can start creating a playlist to bring back all those treasured memories.

Take those old records off the shelf…

Mom has given you a list of her favorite songs. Of course you start on Amazon and iTunes, but if you’re having trouble finding them, there are other options to find classic hits:

  • Rent from your local library. The library usually has a variety of music to choose from. If Mom wants something new, just return the CD and rent a new one.
  • Buy CDs and records online or from your local bookstore. That old hit may not be online, but you may get lucky with finding an old album. If that one song is on a record, there’s no need to search antique stores for a record player. There are modern versions that can play them directly or even record them as an MP3.
  • Spotify has a large collection of songs from all eras. You can use it as a jumping-off point to find the songs or make your own playlists within the player itself. Look for other people’s playlists to find other songs in the same style.
  • Find concerts on YouTube or on DVD. Your Mom will love the recording of a live concert of her favorite band.

My Mom’s Playlist

I made my own Mom a playlist using these tips. Here are four of her favorite tunes:

  1. Amapola (Pretty Little Poppy)” by Jimmy Dorsey. My Mom used to listen to this song with her parents when she was little.
  1. Only Forever” by Bing Crosby. It was wonderful to see Mom’s happiness as she remembered the dances she used to have with my Dad.
  1. Moonlight Cocktail” by Glenn Miller. This is the song that was playing when my Mom met my Dad. Once the memories started coming back, Mom was on a roll! The song triggered her memory and she revealed new stories about her relationship with my father.
  1. I Heard It Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye. This song was at the top of the charts when my eldest brother was a child. My Mom launched into hilarious stories about my brothers as babies that I’ll be sure to mention next time I see them!

Today’s music ain’t got the same soul.

Watching Mom’s face light up as I played these tunes was wonderful. Never before had I seen her dance around the house with such joy. As Bob Seger put it, “There’s only one sure way to get me to go: Start playing that old time rock ‘n’ roll.”


Guest Post by Shayne Fitz-Coy

Shayne Fitz-Coy is the Co-CEO and President of Alert-1, an aging-in-place technology company headquartered in Williamsport, Pennsylvania with offices nationwide. A Certified Aging in Place Specialist, Shayne has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Harvard College and a master’s in Business Administration from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Shayne hails from Maryland, and now calls the Bay Area home.

Senior Advisor's knowledgeable writers blog about senior care services, trends and more.

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