MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Dementia is a disease that affects 5.5 million Americans. A new community choir is rallying around those with the common but often misunderstood condition.

The Life-Long Singers made their debut on the Hudson riverfront Sunday after a few months of practice. The group sings classic, crowd-pleasing songs that many know by heart– and there’s a reason for that.

“Those memories are so deeply etched and we know that long term memory stays into the disease. Even when they lose language, it’s still there,” said Nancy Abrahamson, a dementia care specialist with St. Croix County.

Many of the Life-Long Singers are living with Dementia. Some of the members bring a loved one along with them.

“Just being with my mom, singing the songs. I’m glad we have this opportunity to do this while we still can,” said Life-Long Singers member Stephanie Glowe.

The diagnosis can be isolating for the patient and the caregiver.

“It can be difficult and challenging and a little heartbreaking for the person you once knew,” Glowe said.

Which is why the Dementia Friendly Communities Coalition says it’s so important for those affected to find each other.

The cureless condition gradually chips away at a person’s memory but it does not erase everything.

“We know that towards the end of the disease music still works, touch still works, long term memory works, humor,” Abrahamson said.

The power of song is something that never fades away.

“It’s so important that we don’t put somebody in a box and don’t assume they can’t do things when they probably can,” Abrahamson said.

For more information about the Life-Long Singers, please contact the St. Croix Valley Foundation or the Aging and Disability Resource Center of St. Croix County.

All are welcome to join the group. For more Dementia resources, please visit: http://www.actonalz.org/.

 

Erin Hassanzadeh

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