“ You Are My Sunshine” – Jimmie Davis
A traditional piece that almost everyone knows, this song has been covered so many times that it’s become. Though its origins are a bit unclear, it was popularized by Jimmie Davis and remains a favorite for all generations due to its simple lyrics and easy tune.
“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” – Judy Garland
This list wouldn’t be complete without Judy Garland’s signature song. Winner of the 1939 Academy Award for Best Original Song, the ballad is one of the most enduring standards of the 20th century and a classic for multiple generations. With its wistful lyrics, it’s a great choice to either put someone at ease or take them back in time.
“ Amazing Grace” – Various Artists
The renowned hymn is another popular choice for dementia-related playlists due its status as one of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world. Written by English poet and clergyman John Newton in 1779,the song crossed over to secular audiences in large part because of its universal message of redemption. It saw a resurgence in popularity during the ‘60s. Folk hymns are a great choice in general, especially if one in particular is close to your loved one’s heart.
“Moon River” – Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer or Andy Williams
Also a winner of the Academy Award for Best Original Song, this song became a classic when Audrey Hepburn performed it in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but also gained popularity from the version by the original composers, Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer, who won multiple Grammys because of it. Also known as the theme song for Andy Williams, “Moon River” has been covered by many other musicians. The soothing, ethereal quality of the melody and lyrics makes it a beloved selection.
“ I Want to Hold Your Hand” – The Beatles
You can’t make a list of songs that take you down memory lane without mentioning The Beatles. With its repetitive lyrics and simple message of being with someone you love, this Beatles hit is one of many great choices to add to your playlist. Other possibilities include “Yesterday,” “Hey Jude,” and “Let It Be.”
“Blue Suede Shoes” – Elvis Presley
For something more upbeat, this song is a great choice to get your loved one moving while taking them back to the ‘50s. Considered one of the first rockabilly records, it was written and recorded by Carl Perkins in 1955, but Elvis’ cover is probably more well-known. Elvis’ music in general is a great option when looking to create your own playlist.
“You Make Me Feel So Young ” – Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra is another classic choice and this song in particular has great lyrics that are especially appropriate. Its moderate pace is great for dancing as well, which usually leads to emotional and physical closeness – a noteworthy outcome since patients in the later stages of dementia often lose the ability to share emotions with caregivers. Another popular choice to consider? “New York, New York.”
“Stand by Me ” – Ben E. King
One of the most broadcast songs of the 20th century, this classic was originally inspired by a gospel song. Its repetitive, moving lyrics coupled with King’s impassioned voice made it an obvious choice for us. This year the song was inducted into the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant.”
“What a Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong
One of Armstrong’s most famous hits, this song continues to be a fan favorite decades after its release in 1967. Its hopeful lyrics and easily recognizable melody are among several reasons to add it to your playlist for your loved one. Other songs by Armstrong are great options as well including “When You Are Smiling” and “A Kiss to Build a Dream On.”
“Boogie Woogie Stomp” – Albert Ammons
“Swanee River Boogie” – Albert Ammons
Whatever songs you pick in the end, music used with a dementia patient can ultimately help maintain their quality of life or even improve it.
For more information on dementia and hospice, read our dementia hospice eligibility criteria.
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