FlourishAnyway believes there is a playlist for just about any situation and is on a mission to unite and entertain the world through song.
The Long Goodbye: There's Big Trouble with Granny
Big trouble has been brewing with Granny for years, and everyone knows that it's getting worse. Her doctors call it "mild to moderate cognitive impairment." Behaviorally, we see a terse and confused 86-year-old woman who sometimes picks up the television remote when the phone rings.
Granny can't be left alone because she gives away sensitive information over the phone to anyone who asks—her banking and credit card numbers, social security number, whatever people ask for. She forgets to eat, makes lewd comments that would shame most grown men, and suspects that someone is stealing from her, planning against her, or both.
My cousin and I were befuddled when Granny "introduced" us to one another recently. We clearly knew one another, but did she? Dementia can be difficult on families as well as the person diagnosed.
If your family is struggling with a dementia diagnosis, consider making a playlist of these pop, rock, and country songs that pay tribute to patients with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia as well as the families who support them in their journey. Many of these songs exhibit great empathy. Take comfort in knowing that you are not alone in this struggle.
1. "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" by Glen Campbell
Known as country music's Rhinestone Cowboy, Glen Campbell spent five decades in the music business and won both a Grammy Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 2011, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. This poignant autobiographical song from 2014 tugs at the heartstrings as it fittingly describes his receding memory: "I'm still here, but yet I'm gone."
Unfortunately, the singer's family was embroiled in internal battles over his care as he faced the end stages of the disease living in a memory care facility. Although an internet hoax reported his death in May 2017, he actually died in August 2017.
2. "While He Still Knows Who I Am" by Kenny Chesney
This 2012 country song will leave a lump in your throat. The narrator returns home with intentions of trying to visit and reconnect with his father who is battling dementia:
I'm going back to see him
While he still knows
Who I am.
3. "When You Were Superman" by Massive Dog
On some level, every child believes that his or her parents are invulnerable. Dementia shatters that ideal.
This touching pop song from 2014 features a narrator who fondly recalls his father's previous superhero status. The narrator juxtaposes memories of his own growing up, having his dad teach him skills like reading and tying his shoes with his father’s current loss of them.
Read More From Spinditty
The son wishes he could restore his father’s vigor and vitality by finding out who holds the kryponite, and he's sad that
Superman can’t save the world anymore.
He’s fading fast, but
You’ll always be Superman to me.
4. "Afire Love" by Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran's grandfather battled Alzheimer's Disease for 20 years before it claimed his life in 2013. This 2014 pop song describes Sheeran's memories of growing up with a grandfather who lost the ability to recognize even those who were close to him. It also tenderly portrays the love between his grandparents.
5. "Faces of Stone" by David Gilmour
In this 2015 alternative rock song, an old couple walks, arm in arm. The woman suffers from memory problems and vividly recalls stories from both her youth and childhood home by the sea. She doesn't understand that she is not walking with the lover from her younger years.
6. "Doing The Right Thing" by Daughter
The narrator of this 2016 alternative rock song laments the inevitability of growing old. He reflects on the biological purpose of our lives as reproduction, merely perpetuating ourselves.
After we serve that austere purpose, eventually one loses the people he loves, his purpose, and perhaps his mind:
I have lost my children
I have lost my love
I just sit in silence
Let the pictures soak
Out of televisions
Out of televisions… .
7. "Where've You Been?" by Kathy Mattea
This moving 1989 country song won a Grammy Award for good reason. It was written by the singer's husband regarding his own grandparents' lifetime love affair and a moment they shared towards the end of their lives.
Three different meanings of the question, "Where've you been?" are reflected in the song. The first depicts the couple as young lovers, with the woman asking her new flame where he's been all her life. In the second scenario, they are a married couple, and she is thankful to see him when he returns home late from work in the midst of a bad storm.
In the last scenario, the lifetime partners have been married 60 years but are now resigned to living in a care facility on different floors. The wife experiences dementia. She
... soon lost her memory, forgot the names of family
She never spoke a word again
Then one day they wheeled him in ... .
8. "I Miss Her" by Jessie J
Addressing God, the narrator in this 2013 pop song describes a relative who is an empty shell of her former self, as her mind has been ravaged by dementia. Watching her loved one slip away mentally, the narrator asks God for help and healing. She misses her relative even though she is still here.
9. "Veronica" Elvis Costello
If you have a loved one with dementia like I do, it is bittersweet to compare what they used to be to what they have become. The singer wrote this 1989 rock song about his grandmother with Alzheimer's and her "terrifying moments of lucidity."
Veronica, the old woman in the song, now seems to exist in a dream state or perhaps she is is hiding from reality. The narrator refers to her youth, when her mind was carefree and she carried a devilish look in her eye. Those days have long disappeared, however.
10. "Silent House" by Dixie Chicks
The woman at the center of this 2006 country song has sadly forgotten many of the parts of her life that made it unique and remarkable. Her relative, the narrator, takes a good look at all of the family photographs, handmade objects, clothing, books, and personal items that belong to the ailing woman and now fill up the family home. The younger woman then promises to take these items and try to connect them, thus carrying on the old woman's memories and spirit.
11. "Unraveling" by Liz Longley
The grandaughter of a dementia patient struggles with her grief in this pop song from 2013. She is left with boxes and baskets of her grandmother's treasured items, but the old woman's memory is failing:
She looks in my eyes and asks me my name
Every five minutes I tell her the same.
She smiles, but it's cold and dead
And I'm screaming out loud in my head.
10 Warning Signs and Symptoms of Dementia
|Warning Sign||Warning Sign|
Memory loss affecting job skills and daily function
Problems with abstract thinking
Difficulty performing familiar tasks such as following a recipe, driving to a famiiar location, or remembering the rules to a favorite game
Misplacing things, such as putting items in inappropriate places
Problems with language, such as forgetting simple words or substituting the wrong word
Changes in mood and behavior, such as rapid mood swings for no known reason
Disorientation of time and location
Personality changes, such as becoming suspicious, fearful, or confused
Poor or inappropriate judgment
Loss of initiative, including passivity and requiring prompting to act
12."Vanishing Mind" by Calexico
This alternative rock song from 2012 fittingly describes dementia as the "vanishing mind." With its references to sealed rooms and waiting in hallways, it envokes images of nursing homes and reminds us that it's challenging to understand someone when there is nothing left to remember them.
13. "Forever Changed" by Carrie Underwood
Nothing ever stays the same. This 2012 country song depicts the life changes that forever marked the life of her grandmother: falling in love, becoming a mother, and now, as her life memories fade away in old age, Alzheimer's.
14. "The Locket" by Lauren Alaina
In this 2011 country song, a thoughtful grandaughter tries to prompt her grandmother to recall personally significant memories. Decades before, the old woman had been given a heart-shaped locket by her beau, the man she married and had a family with. She promised never to take it off. However, now she gifts the locket to the grandaughter, saying it's time to head on home to the boy in the locket.
15. "Raymond" by Brett Eldredge
The singer was inspired to write this 2010 country tune because his grandmother had Alzheimer's. In the song, a young man works at a nursing home. One of the patients he serves routinely mistakes him for her long-dead son, Raymond, who was killed while serving in the Vietnam War.
Famous People with Alzheimer's and Other Forms of Dementia
Casey Kasem, from American Top 40 Count Down fame and voice of "Shaggy" in Scooby Doo
Sugar Ray Robinson, champion boxer
David Cassidy, former teen idol, musician, and actor, famous for The Partridge Family
Gene Wilder, comic actor
Margaret Thatcher, first female Prime Minister of Britain
Robin Williams, actor and comedian
Rita Hayworth, dancer, pin-up, and film star
Rosa Parks, mother of the Civil RIghts movement who refused to give up her bus seat
Abigail Van Buren, advice columnist known as "Dear Abby"
Ronald Reagan, 40th U.S. President
Norman Rockwell, painter of American nostalgia
E.B. White, author of "Stuart Little" and "Charlotte's Web"
Sargent Shriver, politician and activist who organized the Peace Corps, founded Job Corps and Head Start
Glen Campbell, pop and country music artist
Charlton Heston, actor and political activist
Malcolm Young, guitarist and co-founder of AC/DC
Ralph Waldo Emerson, American transcendental poet
Pat Summitt, NCAA women's basketball coach
16. "I Know Who He Is" by William Michael Morgan
Not wanting to give in to the reality that his father is going downhill as a result of his battle with dementia, the man in this 2016 country song tells the doctor that he will remember for him. He sees his dad the way he used to be, even as changes have taken their heartwrenching toll:
Looking right through me is not at all the way I see him
I don’t mind at all remembering for him
He doesn’t have to get why I adore him
He don’t have to know me; I know who he is.
17. "Sometimes" by Charlie McGettigan
This talented Irish singer contributes a touching 2010 country song about a man who visits a longtime friend with Alzheimer's. The ailing friend cannot remember important people if his life or other details about his past. Naturally, it's painful for his friend to watch him frustrated and struggling with memories that are forever slipping away.
18. "The Way" by Fastball
A chart-topper from 1998, this rock song is about an elderly married couple who decide to pack their suitcases and leave their lives, driving away on an unannounced road trip. The song is a romanticized depiction of a real couple from Texas, Lela and Raymond Howard, who were both in their eighties. Lela suffered from Alzheimer's and Raymond was recovering from brain surgery when they set out for a nearby festival 15 miles from home.
The real couple was sadly found dead in their car at the bottom of a ravine 500 miles away only two weeks after their road trip began. However, this song imagines them setting off on a highway adventure, happy, carefree, and forever young.
19. "From His Window" by John Smith
Dedicated to his father who died from Alzheimer's, this bittersweet 1998 song describes an old man who doesn't know what day it is and doesn't speak much anymore. The disease has taken that from him.
His son, however, reflects on the man his father used to be. His dad now looks out on the world from his window—the windows at his nursing home and the car window when his son comes to take him on drives.
20. "Forget To Remember" by Megadeth
If you doubted that a hard rock song could also be poignant, then you haven't listened to this 2013 song. The narrator addresses a loved one with dementia and describes the long goodbye.
Even More Songs About Alzheimer's and Dementia
23. She Misses Him
24. She Remembers Love
26. I Will Remind You
28. I Left That Body Long Ago
29. Moving Oleta
30. I'm Not Me
31. Remember Me
32. I'm Not Me Anymore
34. Blank Stares
35. My Mom
37. She's Gonna Fly
38. The Dutchman
39. Sweet Norma Jean
40. Deadly Dull
41. Time After Time
© 2017 FlourishAnyway
FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on May 27, 2020:
annmarie nic - At first blush, I thought, "No way. This is not about this topic. It's about a breakup." However, I looked at the lyrics just to see if it might apply here and it very much does. Thanks for suggesting it. I added it.
annmarie nic on May 22, 2020:
Can i please suggest Time after Time by Cyndi Lauper.
FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 19, 2020:
Peggy - It's a devastating disease. People slowly disappear before your eyes.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 18, 2020:
I have known several people who were afflicted with this horrendous disease. I hope that someday they can find a cure. As to the songs, I do not think I have heard of any of them!
FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 03, 2020:
dozjazz - Thank you for your comment. Although I haven't added it to the playlist, many people read the comments here. The links are often excerpted, however.
docjazz on April 03, 2020:
Lovely article, and unique collection of songs! Thank you. I didn't even realize there are so many songs about this topic. On my own new album 'Love in the Time of Corona' (by Doc Jazz) my song 'Leaving it up to Fate' is about how I am processing the pain of having my dear mother fall victim to Alzheimer's .
Release date is 18th of March 2020, so that would be the most recent one on your list!
It can be found on YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, and most of the other main music platforms.
FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 10, 2020:
Tom - I'm sorry about your mother. My grandmother has good days and not so good ones. She's almost 90 and can recall long ago memories but not memories of yesterday and has minimal self-insight. It's like someone has placed a blanket over her personality and only sometimes allows her to surface. What a terrible disease.
tom from Yuma, AZ on February 10, 2020:
My mom just passed away dec 20 2019 from dementia she suffered for 2 1/2 years we slowly watched our dear mother slip away one day at a time. I miss my mom more than words can ever say I feel empty inside however that emptiness started long before that dec morning. I can't thank you enough for your playlists I am going to make my own playlist about my mom and will be posting on my profile over the next few days
FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 29, 2019:
Mike - Thanks for the song recommendation which I added.
Mike on June 29, 2019:
Deadly Dull ~ Movements
FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 13, 2019:
Tara - I'm so sorry about your grandmother. Mine is in hospice now and just this week asked a relative what her brother's phone number was. She's been dialing that number for 55 years but now cannot remember it. He also has dementia, but his case is more advanced.
Your voice is absolutely lovely. This song honors your grandma.
Tara Powers on June 11, 2019:
My name is Tara Powers and My husband and I are a singer-songwriter duo and we love this playlist! Thank you so much for creating such a beautiful song list for so many people struggling through dementia.
We just released a song called this month called, "Sweet Norma Jean" about my Grandma who was diagnosed with Alzheimers in 2011. You can hear the song here: https://open.spotify.com/track/3UjRd1DfvO2hiMRJCWu...
Or you can listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSwUWOkL-S4
We wondered if you might add it to the playlist to encourage others going through the pain of dementia but offering hope through a little piece of art. Thanks so so much for your consideration. We hope you have an amazing day!!! ❤️
FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 07, 2019:
Doris - I'm sorry about your friend. It's a cruel blessing to still be here in body but have your mind not work. I'm glad you enjoyed the songs. Sorry about your dad as well. My mother had a painful childhood with a father who was a hopeless alcoholic, and she is very scarred from her memories of trying in vain to establish a relationship with him.
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 06, 2019:
Flourish, I’m back. I listened to the songs, of which all were very emotional. My favorite was When You Were Superman by Massive Dog. While my father didn’t have Alzheimer’s, he was alcoholic, which got worse as he got older, so I could relate to it from that. The songs by Elvis Costello and Kathy Mattea were very heartstring tugging, too. All of them were.
The connection between T3DM and Alzheimer’s was surprising. If that is so, then a number of injury-related dementias have been misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s. I lost a good friend to an accident. As the songs go, her body is still here, but her mind is gone.
FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 06, 2019:
Doris, I'm sorry to hear about your uncle's wife and grandfather. My grandmother just turned 88 and is now in home hospice for other ailments, but her dementia adds to the whole situation. Some researchers in the last few years have contended that Alzheimer's is actually Type 3 diabetes, a type of diabetes in that particularly impacts the brain. I appreciate your reading and commenting.
Doris James MizBejabbers from Beautiful South on June 05, 2019:
Flourish, I didn't realize that there were so many songs about dementia. I'm reading your article late at night and commenting, but I'll come back and listen to every song. I promise.
Glen Campbell, an Arkansas boy, broke our hearts but he was so strong toward the end of his life. Robin Williams was a shock to all of us, I think. I read your chart, and I knew that only six of these people had Alzheimers or another form of dementia. It is heartbreaking.
My aunt (my uncle's wife) said that he had Alzheimers when he died. I had not realized that, but sometimes it takes living with a person and dealing with them to know it. Auntie also said my grandfather had Alzheimers, but I asked my mother once, and she said that he did not. Mom said he just had a little "senility", so apparently he never reached the severe stage if he had it at all.
As usual, you've written a great article with music that we can enjoy and think about.
FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on June 05, 2019:
John Rahilly - Thank you for this suggestion which I added.
John Rahilly on June 04, 2019:
The Dutchman by Michael Smith. See also the version by Steve Goodman.
FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on April 03, 2019:
Leah Reese - Thank you for sharing the creative impact that your grandfather had upon you. He lives on through your music.
Leah Reese on April 01, 2019:
I just released a song called “Don’t forget me” by Leah Reese that focuses on my Grandfather’s Dementia towards the end of his life. I really did not start writing songs until his passing and it just helped ease the loss. Now I write songs all the time about everything in my life. Thanks Grandpa for opening another door for me even as you closed your last one.
FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on February 01, 2019:
Peg - I'm so sorry about your mother. Thank you for sharing about her. Many people live with loved ones who have memory issues but don't talk about them. I'm sure your story registered as it did with me. Sending hugs to you.
Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on January 31, 2019:
Still wiping away the tears from listening to "I'm Not Going to Miss You." It really hits home when your loved ones start forgetting common things. In her late eighties, my mom told me stuff when she was still living in her home that began to make me worry. Like when she couldn't find a prescription medication that was in the same drawer where her meds were always kept. Or that her crock pot wasn't working anymore. (She had it on warm, not meant for cooking.) Toward the end, she forgot things like the year I was born and how old I was, even what year it was. She once remarked that she wished my husband had met her sister who was a real crackup. (Aunt Helen attended our wedding years earlier and was in our lives a lot.) It is heartbreaking not only to the children but to the person affected when they lose touch with memories.
You've really compiled quite a collection of songs that tell the story.
FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 28, 2019:
Hack Lennock - Thank you for the information. I wish you and your wife all the best.
Hack Lennock on January 28, 2019:
Great list. As a 24-7 Alzheimer's caregiver I love the Alzheimer's song "Halfway to Heaven" by Phil King. It is a song of hope. My wife is in stage 6 and still sings along every time it plays. It is on all of the digital sites. Search "Phil King Halfway to Heaven."
FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 03, 2019:
David Hall - Thank you for the song suggestion which I have added at #36. Wishing you all the best, FlourishAnyway
David Hall on January 03, 2019:
Try the song "Hello" by Amy Black.
FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 03, 2019:
C - Thank you for drawing my attention to this song. I have added it. All the best, FlourishAnyway
C on January 02, 2019:
“My Mom” by Chocolat Genesis
FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on August 15, 2018:
Connie - What a beautiful song. I've added it. Thanks so much.
Connie Brown on August 14, 2018:
Blank Stares by Jay Allen
FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on March 01, 2018:
Susan, Aside from the songs on this playlist that are about dementia, you might look at these two playlists and select songs that appeal to you:
I'm Here for You Playlist: https://spinditty.com/playlists/Songs-About-Suppor...
and Songs About Survival and Perseverance in the Face of Challenge: https://hubpages.com/playlists/Survivors-Song-List... Good luck with your fundraising event.
Susan on March 01, 2018:
I work with dementia can u help with a song we have a event at work raise money
FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 17, 2018:
Mister - Thanks for your comment. I think the song is about the autopilot/how did I get here moments that we have, but that's just my interpretation. I appreciate your suggestion!
Mister on January 16, 2018:
I’ve heard that Once In A Lifetime is about Alzheimer’s, though I’m not completely sure.
FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 16, 2018:
Frank - Thanks for such a kind compliment. This was a really meaningful playlist to put together.
Frank Atanacio on January 16, 2018:
I don't know how or why I missed this one.. wow amazing .. damn great list and the meaning of the list ..:) Frank
FlourishAnyway (author) from USA on January 16, 2018:
Pamela Davis - Thank you for sharing your touching story. I have several relatives with dementia but that's a lot different from having it yourself. A big hug to you from across the internet. All the best to you and your family in your battle. - Flourish
Pamela Davis on January 16, 2018:
This is a beautiful collection of songs about Alzheimer’s Lisrening to the songs I reflected on the memories I have of my Mom, who has Alzheimer’s and smile and realize how lucky I was , or I should say is to have her in my life. I am sadden by the songs as well because I am going down the same path as her because I have significant cognitive decline. I feel for my children who are witnessing me go down this long road and pray it is not a long one for their sake.