Description of Activity: Residents in the Music for the Mind program will be able to experience real life connections with peers, family members, and staff members through a fun activity that will get the mind going and maybe even their singing voices! The recreation therapist and the residents will be collaborating together to make a playlist of residents' favorite songs. Then in a group or 1:1 discussion, each resident will share at least one song with their peers or their family members. This program will benefit the residents in various ways such as relationships among staff and family members, calm and more supportive social environment, residents are more happier and more social, reduction of stress and anxiety, and a chance to remember something or someone that they never thought was possible (,2015). Processing/ Debriefing:   What experiences have you had that you are grateful for? What happened today/this week that you are grateful for? What relationships are you thankful for? What opportunities to help others are you thankful for? What insight have you gained that you are grateful for? What have others in your life done that you are thankful for? Have you ever tried a gratitude journal? Any thoughts? Who do you appreciate? How are you fortunate? What is something that truly makes you grateful and happy?


Preparation: 1:1: Recreation therapist will have song and lyrics sheet ready ahead of time (at least a week prior to activity) Recreation therapist will set the room up accordingly (table with sound system device, song/lyrics sheets, and a list of their debrief questions after the activity) Small group: The recreational therapist and additional staff will set up the room accordingly (chairs for ambulatory residents, table for sound system devices and noise makers) The recreational therapist will make sure all sound devices are working properly and efficiently The recreational therapist and additional staff will help residents to the common area/dining room if they are in a wheelchair.   Limitations:  Time constraints only allow for one song to be played Residents may be hard of hearing Certain songs might bring back unpleasant memories

Group Size Time of Day Duration Acuity Level
Small (2 - 4) Any 30 minutes Assisted Living
Long-term Care
Memory Care
Skilled Nursing/Rehab
Facilitator Gender
Programming Coed
Wellness Domains



Sound System: iPod, Spotify, mp3 player, piano, computer Musical instruments and noisemakers Lyric and song sheets Chairs for ambulatory residents

Supporting Research

Skrivervik, E., Buettner, L. L., & Testad, I. (2012). Care staff experiences of facilitating person-centered care and resident involvement through the use of individualized music in dementia care. Activities Directors’ Quarterly for Alzheimer’s & Other Dementia Patients, 13(4), 33–46. Geist, M. E. (2015). The healing power of music.  Retrieved from Schaeffer, J. (2020). Music Therapy in Dementia Treatment- Recollection through sound. Retrieved from



Good For



Adaptations:  For residents who are hard of hearing, processing questions can be written on notecards and passed out individually or displayed on a white board for all residents to see. Sheet music and lyrics can be printed in a large font for residents with visual processing conditions. Noise canceling headphones can be useful for residents with sensory processing conditions who may feel overstimulated by excess sound. If the recreation therapist wishes to incorporate physical movement such as dance during the music session, it should be inclusive and considerate of the abilities of residents who use ambulatory devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, and canes. Tie into gratitude: This article from Reader’s digest explains that with gratitude journals, you can live a happier life! Gratitude can help us sleep better and lower stress levels. The journal article from the American Journal of Recreation Therapy explains how the care staff in a nursing home developed empathy for the residents, and it explains how music therapy can be meaningful and beneficial for the residents. Erickson, A. (2018, September 28). The Secret to Happiness Only Takes One Minute a Day. Retrieved from

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