Creating personalized playlists on an iPod is not the same as music therapy, but it is an awesome way to help with easing caregiving routines, encouraging exercise, and sparking interesting discussions. Here are the five playlists that I think every caregiver should have on their iPod:
1. Music for waking up and getting ready
These are the tunes that will help to encourage you and your loved one to get out of bed and started with morning routines. You might choose songs that are upbeat and cheery to set a good mood for the day to come. Bonus points for choosing songs that talk about the morning and sunlight.
- Oh, What A Beautiful Morning
- When The Red, Red Robin Comes Bob, Bob, Bobbin’ Along
- You Are My Sunshine
- Morning Has Broken
2. Music for exercise/physical activity
These are the up-tempo tunes that you just can’t help but dance to. Choose songs that get toes tapping and heads bopping. Use this music on your daily walk, or spend time dancing with your loved one at home.
3. Music for no-fail fun times
These are the silly songs, or the ones that inspire storytelling. Your picks for this playlist will definitely depend on your loved one’s preferences and your shared experiences.
Here are some of my favorites:
- Mairzy Doats
- Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini
- Take Me Out to the Ballgame
- (How Much Is) That Doggie In The Window
4. Music for calming down
This is the time to bring out the moderate and slow-tempo ballads. If you want music specifically to help with relaxation and encouraging sleep on the physiological level (based on the principle of entrainment), look for songs that are at a slow, even tempo.
Some good choices:
- Twilight Time
- Over The Rainbow
- Air On A G String – J.S. Bach
- Selections from Liquid Mind by Chuck Wild
5. Music for contemplation and renewal
This is the list especially for you, the caregiver, although you may want to share these with your loved one, too. These are the songs that help you get into (or return to) the frame of mind for caring for your loved one and yourself. It’s easy to get stuck in the minutiae of day-to-day tasks and minor crises and to let these things wear you down and burn you out. You might choose songs from your faith tradition or songs that remind you of the beauty and good things in life. They can be slow and meditative or upbeat and encouraging. It’s vital that you have music that supports your own musical being, so choose the ones that you like, whether your care recipient loves them too or not.
Here are a few of my favorite songs for my own self-care:
- Blessed Assurance
- What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
- Extraordinary Machine – Fiona Apple
- Lemon Tree – The Ditty Bops
Of course, there is no substitute for listening to lots of music together with your care recipient to find out what works best for the both of you. Half the fun is in the exploration!