Dementia choir changing lives for the better through song and friendship

CANBERRA: Canberra’s first dementia-friendly choir is making a positive difference in the lives of people living with the disease, as well as their partners and carers.

The Alchemy Chorus was jointly created by conductor Brian Triglone and the charity Alzheimer’s Australia late last year.

“We wanted to develop something inclusive, they had to come with a carer or a partner,” Mr Triglone said.

“It’s been very, very important for the carers and I hadn’t seen that coming.”

Carer Don Aitken and his wife Bev are among up to 60 choir members who rehearse on Thursday nights.

“We go as a person with the dementia and the carer,” Mrs Aitken said.

“So there’s always someone’s hand to hold onto.

“I always know what day of the week it is if it’s Thursday.

Creating the choir to apply art therapy as a treatment was part of Alzheimer’s Australia’s strategic plan.

The charity said research had proven that the arts enhanced the lives of people living with dementia and their carers.

“We are using the arts instead of anti-psychotic medication,” Heather Clarke of Alzheimer’s Australia ACT said.

“When people are unsettled or if they’re agitated we are not giving them an anti-psychotic.

“What we are doing is we are putting on their favourite tune and that is producing a decreased agitation and people are starting to settle.”

But Mr Triglone was quick to emphasise that the performing choir was not just a singalong.

“You can go and have a singalong any old time but to feel that you are doing something that has got a purpose is much more meaningful,” he said.

Click here for video of The Alchemy Chorus

Full story covered in the Dementia Business Weekly.