MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s one of the most terrifying diseases of advanced age. That’s the inability to remember the simplest things, like a loved one’s name.

But people fighting with dementia and Alzheimer’s are proving that while some things may get lost, they are still able to put song to verse without missing a word.

They are doing just that in the “Giving Voice Chorus” at the MacPhail Center for Music.

In the group of mature faces and youthful hearts, there is little argument. The reality of daily life is the cruelest aspect of aging.

“I’m past that, that’s just a norm,” Marty Everest said.

That norm for Everest, and those around her, is a once steel-sharp mind that is increasingly dulled from dementia.

“My grandmother had problems with memory loss, my mother and father had problems with memory loss,” Everest, who was diagnosed several years ago, said.

Though it is now a problem she shares with 30 other members of the “Giving Voice Chorus.”

The group is a unique gathering of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of memory loss, who find comfort in music.

“Music memory is stored in part of the brain that’s last affected by Alzheimer’s,” Mary Lenard, former executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association, said.

You might call it the miracle of music; the ability to recall verses and entire songs, while at the same time forgetting loved-one’s names and many other simple details.

The opportunity to help those with memory loss is why the MacPhail Center for Music created the chorus as part of its “Music for Life” programs.

“So after people are done singing, they are even more alive, they have a stronger memory, they feel more vibrant,” Lenard said.

You can hear it Everest’s voice and in those around her. Though their memories may have been stolen by disease their minds are filled with the simple joys of sweet music.

The Giving Voice Chorus will be in concert this Saturday, Dec. 6 at the McPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis. Concert times are at 4 and 6 p.m.

For more information, visit Giving Voice Chorus online.

Bill Hudson

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