Salisbury Presbyterian Church fights Alzheimer’s and Dementia with chorus

Published: Jan. 10, 2019 at 8:41 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Salisbury Presbyterian Church in Chesterfield has come together to create a chorus called JoyFul Voices.

“We are excited that we are the first in this quadrant of the country,” said Joanne Sherman, artistic director of Joyful Voices Chorus.

The community chorus gives people living with Alzheimer’s and Dementia a chance to be proud of something and to sing their hearts out.

“It enables them to feel that they are capable of so much," said Sherman.

“With this disease its often a difficult time and there’s not a lot of joyful things that happen so for us to come every week and just spend an hour and half just socializing and singing, it’s been a gift," said Caregiver Kate Turner.

Kate Turner’s mom, Maxine Williams, has Alzheimer’s. She says the choir gives them something joyful to do every week rather than visiting the doctor for appointments.

“Dealing with this disease, you look forward to the good days, and Thursday is definitely the best day that we get to experience this together,” said Turner.

The nonprofit chooses music that the singers can relate to from their past, so in many ways they already know the lyrics.

“This has been something that takes us back to those days – mom and daughter," said Turner.

“Those lyrics and tunes are stored in the base of the brain, which is the part of the brain last affected by the late stages of Alzheimer,” said Sherman.

The singing not only helps their memories, but it also allows the members to get out of their shells and make new friends.

“They may not have said a word all week but they come on Thursday morning and they start to sing some of these tunes," said Sherman.

For members like Maxine, she said she now has something to look forward to every Thursday.

“Very thankful for this group,” said Maxine Williams. “I’ve just enjoyed coming and singing.”

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