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Tuesday, 1 December 2020


Charity reveals the best MP3 music players to help people living with dementia connect with family during lockdown

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LEADING music and dementia charity, Playlist for Life, has revealed the top three MP3 music players as tested by people with dementia and their families. The charity is encouraging family members to send music players loaded with personal playlists to support their loved ones under lockdown.  

More than two decades of research at Stanford University showing that ‘personal music’ – the specific tunes attached to someone’s emotions that spark memories – can help those living with dementia by alleviating stress, managing symptoms and strengthening relationships with family members and carers.

The new MP3 user research, conducted by Playlist for Life in November and December 2019 with funding support from The Life Changes Trust, tested three MP3 players with a user group of 29 people living with dementia and their carers. The suggested players have been selected on the basis of accessible design, low cost and availability. All three MP3 players retail between £15 and £70 and are commonly available from Argos and Amazon.

Sarah Metcalfe, Chief Executive of Playlist for Life, said: 

‘Lockdown is proving particularly hard for people living with dementia and many families are desperate for ways to support their loved ones.’

‘We recommend everyone make a playlist of someone’s special tunes, download the playlist onto an MP3 player and post it to their loved one. They can listen at home to manage stress, engage their brain and lift their mood. This is a cheap and easy way to connect with loved ones during a period when physical contact is not possible’

While the user-testing was intended to examine people’s experiences with the technology rather than the music itself, the results also suggested that removing the burden of setting up technology and encouraging the use of the MP3 player could result in significant use: 92% of participants in the testing used their playlist a few times a week and 28% at least once a day.

One participant involved in the user-testing, who cares for their spouse at home, said:

‘Using the MP3 player completely uplifts her. I use it to get her to walk around the house when she’s struggling with her mobility. The music just gets her going.’

Staff at Playlist for Life have been working remotely with care homes and family members of those living with dementia to provide music players to those who could benefit during the lockdown.

A care home manager who worked with Playlist for Life said: 

‘The MP3 player was an amazing success with Billy, He walked everywhere listening to it and the song choices were obviously a hit as he was beaming and several of the staff commented on his reaction to it, it really seemed to focus him… really put him in a happy bubble. We’re also working through the rest of the residents forming them a playlist for life due to its positive effects on Billy.’

The three MP3 players recommended by the report are: Bush 4GB MP3 Player (£14.99 from Argos), Bush 8GB MP3 Player with Display (£29.99 from Argos) and the Solo USB Personal Audio MP3 Player (£66.65 from Kings Access Technology), which was particularly recommended for those with visual impairments.

During lockdown Playlist for Life have launched a wider campaign encouraging everyone to connect through music. Advice for family members, carers and anyone looking for more guidance on the benefits of music for those living with dementia can be found at www.playlistforlife.org.uk.

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