Technology Can Help Seniors Relive Musical Memories


On October 28, 1956, the landscape of American music changed forever.

That night, television talk show host Ed Sullivan introduced Elvis Presley on his show. Elvis, still a young man just beginning to reach the early heights of his fame, walked out flanked by his band and four backup singers. The crowd was going berserk before he’d even said a word. He soaked in the adulation with a wry smile, then began introducing his song. He was about to start playing, then stopped short to wring out every last bit of anticipation that he could. Finally, he launched into “Hound Dog”, and the marriage between music, television and fame was complete.

Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show was a defining moment for many people of that generation – but if you were unlucky enough to miss it back then, there was no way to see what you had missed. Moments like that came and went, and there was nothing you could do.

Not so today. Now if you want to watch that performance, just type “Elvis Ed Sullivan” into the YouTube search box and it comes right up in seconds. That moment now lives forever.

For seniors looking to relive their favorite musical moments, technology allows us to do so quickly and easily.


As mentioned above in the example with Elvis, YouTube houses just about every song, album and live performance ever recorded. You can find just about anything you’re looking for in a matter of seconds.

Whether it’s the Elvis example above, or another legendary Ed Sullivan moment when the Beatles made their first appearance.

Or perhaps you want to revisit the time when Jimi Hendrix played “The Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock. Or Queen’s legendary set at Live Aid.

Whatever your musical preference, YouTube can be a great stroll down memory lane, and as long as you’re willing to watch brief commercials before a song, it’s also free.

And because YouTube is so ubiquitous, odds are the senior in your life is already aware of it and knows how to use it or can be taught relatively easily.

If there’s a downside to YouTube, it’s that it might be possible for a loved one to be recommended videos that have nothing to do with music, and can lead them down rabbit holes that may not be a great idea. Meanwhile, the comments sections are another world entirely that are usually best ignored. 

But for the sheer enjoyment of finding old favorites, it’s hard to beat.

iTunes / Streaming Services

Another downside to YouTube is that it’s not easy to use on the go or during an activity.

Cue iTunes and streaming services.

With iTunes in particular, there’s a cost factor that may be prohibitive to some seniors. Even at just a couple of dollars per song, it can add up as you’re trying to build out a music library. But it also allows people to own music on their phone they can listen to at any time – on a walk, while doing house or yard work, maybe on earphones at the grocery store, etc. You don’t have to worry about data overages or commercials.

On the other hand, streaming services like Spotify or Pandora can help mix up the variety and introduce you to similar artists you might not be aware of, or bring out songs you haven’t heard in a long time. Whether it’s curating a Spotify playlist or letting Pandora take the wheel on a particular station, you can tailor the experience as you like it – either stick to the favorites you know, or let them help you find new ones!

Asking Alexa

“Alexa, play Johnny Cash.”

And just like that, your home might be filled with the sound of the man in black.

An Alexa device can come in handy for many people – maybe you don’t like wearing earphones, and the sound coming through your smart device throughout the house sounds better. Maybe you like the ability to have voice control. Or maybe your kids bought you this thing and you’re just trying to figure out what to do with it.

But Alexa, or a similar device, is handy around the house, and can help create ambience while you’re cleaning, paying bills, cooking, or just enjoying some down time. And hey, if it gets you singing along, there are plenty of benefits that come along with belting out your favorite tune.

Music at Prestige

At Prestige Senior Living, we know the importance of music to our residents. Music is the soundtrack to our lives, and the right song at the right time can take our residents right back to an important moment, or remind them of a loved one, bringing them the happiness that comes with those memories.

That happiness extends to those living with Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. Despite the challenges that come with memory loss, singing often remains a favorite activity. According to the Mayo Clinic, 

“Musical memories are often preserved in Alzheimer’s Disease because key brain areas linked to musical memory are relatively undamaged by the disease.”

To find out more, contact the community nearest you!