3 Christmas Song Lists for Memory Care
Elder care professionals: Are you looking for some music resources for your planned recreational activities? Whether for use in a senior activity day center, at home or in a nursing home, we have a few song lists and suggestions you can have at your fingertips. Use them to lift spirits and get toes tapping this season.
These Christmas selections were made from music that was popular in the 1920’s through the 1950’s, perfect for you to use in your memory care activities this week and the next.
Becoming Acquainted With Memory Care
I’ve known Janet, co-founder of Bear Paw Creek for a very long time now and my relationship with her has caused me to be more aware of the role of music and movement in therapy for people of all ages.
One therapy I’ve been researching and would love to hear more about is the role of memory care in people with dementia. Memory Care facilities take into account both the physical safety of the resident and the continuing mental and emotional wellbeing of the person. It costs more to have a family member stay in a Memory Care facility, but the increase in cost comes with an increase in benefits to your loved one.
Games, music, and other activities, take into account the memories, loves, and abilities, of elderly people being cared for. This is also done in most nursing homes, in portions of many hospitals, in senior activity centers, and can be intentionally planned with in-home care as well.
As I type this, I think of my grandmother who has passed away and the tender care she got from a nursing facility and two of my aunts. I also think of a dear friend whose mother is dealing with Alzheimer’s, and how much her family loves her and how well they care for her. The third person I think of is a dear friend who watched her husband go through Alzheimer’s the last few years of his life. The weight of all of that love and loss makes it impossible for me to contemplate it without tears in my eyes.
This, then, is why memory care professionals pique my interest. Memory care, calls to my mind respect for the memories still able to be accessed and enjoyed… The songs, the images, and events which are still vivid when other memories are hidden under the blanket a fog.
In memory care, you enter into the world of the person who has dementia and you meet them there, on their terms, rather than expecting them to meet you in a place they can no longer relate to. Memory care also involves creating opportunities to take part in activities which have a low frustration level for the people you are working with.
Someone who can’t recognize faces and names may well remember how to play the piano, paint with a paint brush, or cut up fruit for a salad. These activities both stimulate the neuropathways and increase levels of pleasure while reducing feelings of isolation and anger.
With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of popular Christmas songs and artists from the 40’s 50’s and 60’s to be used by those planning an enjoyable time of recreation for residents of nursing homes or senior activity centers. I’ll give you a list of Youtube links as well as some links to great album choices of CDs or downloads. If you have a record player… well, you just might want to start hunting on Craigslist and garage sales for some great oldies to play (I saw record players for sale in a store last month… They’re coming back?).
Host a Christmas dance for an elder care activity, complete with records and a vintage record player.
You can find record players on Amazon, They’re called “turn tables”, and you can even get a Victrola Nostalgic Classic, which residents of your elder care facility may enjoy seeing and having around. For the guests who can’t get up and dance, provide Movement Scarves, Streamers or Jingle Bells for their wrists, so they can dance with their arms and hands, or simply let them soak in the scene and enjoy the music.
Here are a list of records you can purchase in time for a Christmas party (if you get right on it.)
- Big Band Christmas
- We Wish You a Merry Christmas, by the Ray Conniff Singers
- Andy Williams Christmas Album
- Perry Como Home for the Holidays
- Christmas Serenade in the Glenn Miller Style
If buying a record player and records isn’t in the budget this year, here are some other ways to bring Christmas music to your memory care activities.
A List of Vintage Christmas Music Resources for Memory Care Activities
1. Vintage Christmas music on Youtube to use with memory care activities.
You can set your laptop up and play these tunes to get toes tapping (either connected to a T.V or not). Have it as the main event or in the background while you all work on a
Christmas craft and sip hot chocolate.
2. Online Christmas song playlists sites to use with your memory care activities.
Rather than using a record player, cd player, computer or tape recorder (what’s that?), you can use your phone plugged into a speaker to provide Christmas ambiance for your activities.
Here are some links to playlists of vintage Christmas songs which will spark memories for people who grew up before the 1960’s. To tell the truth, many of the best songs were written before the 50’s, so these songs will probably spark memories for anyone who’s grown up with the tradition of celebrating Christmas in the U.S.A.
- Yule Play 50’s Christmas Songs.
- Yule Play 40’s Christmas Songs. Of course, there’s some overlap in these lists.
- Here are many lists from 8tracks.com
- Another option is to use www.spotify.com to create your own list.3. Hymns playlist stirs up precious childhood memories and hope.
3. Hymns playlist stirs up precious childhood memories and hope.
The power of hymns in the lives of many elderly is very significant. Some have heard the Christmas hymns since they were babies on their mother’s knee. Most wonderful is being able to have a few musicians play the piano, guitar or some other instrument and lead the singing of carols. However, if those resources aren’t available through paid staff or volunteers (many churches would be willing to send out a group to lead the carols one night during the Christmas Season), I have compiled a playlist and resources for Christmas hymns here.
Of all the memory-centered activities you can create for the elderly around Christmas, providing a time to remember Christ’s birth with Christmas hymns may be the most significant.
Many thanks and appreciation are owed to the professionals who care for the elderly.
This is true whether they are providing for the physical needs or creating meaningful recreation and activities for the elderly in nursing homes work. I hope to see more writing and speaking about the role of memory care in the lives of elderly people struggling with dementia. I hope to see movement therapy and music play an integral part in that care as well.
I want to leave you with these links to excellent websites with resources for memory care activities you can use in the coming year. May the year be filled with blessings for you as you bless other people through your work with the elderly, whether it be your own precious family member or someone else’s beloved family member.
- Not Just Bingo.
- Activities for Alzheimer and Dementia Patients.
- From Pinterest.
- I love these tips and game suggestions from Best Alzheimer’s Products, including why’s and how’s.
Please share tips and ideas you put into practice in your recreation and/or memory care for elderly residents.