SAN ANTONIO — Dementia is a disease that, little by little, takes away one's memory. But research has shown that singing allows those with the disease to have a better quality of life and even better physical health.
The Grace Notes Community Choir is designed specifically for those with dementia and their caregivers.
"It's been a great time for us to spend together, I would say," said Sarah Jasso, who comes with her 85-year-old grandmother, Bette Wadsack, who has dementia.
She's been a singer since she was a little girl.
"Grandma enjoys a lot of the older songs that take her back to her childhood," Jasso said.
"The music always brings back those memories of the lyrics of the songs that we learned growing up," Choir Director Amy Standridge said. "Which is why when we do things like 'You Are My Sunshine' without the music everyone just knows it."
Once they start to sing, their faces light up with joy.
"Since it is globally processed in the brain, it accesses some areas that speech discontinues to do," Standridge said. "So as the disease progresses, sometimes people can sing a full song and may not be able to speak a sentence."
The group exists thanks to a partnership between UT Health San Antonio's Caring for the Caregiver program and Meals on Wheels of San Antonio.
"We run two facilities for seniors with dementia here in San Antonio. They are called Grace Place, so we are always looking for more and better ways to give our seniors living with dementia a chance to express themselves," said Curtis Ruder, chief operating officer for Meals on Wheels San Antonio.
They're always looking for more to join this collection of crooners who meet every Friday morning. Next Thursday, UT Health San Antonio is hosting a caregiver skills training workshop from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. at its School of Nursing. To learn more about the workshop and how you can attend, click here.
To find out more about the choir and how you can join to sing or volunteer check out the Caring for the Caregiver site here.
You can also reach out to Meals on Wheels at (210)735-5155, and ask for the Grace Notes Community Choir. To check out their Facebook site, click here.