IRENE’S STORY: Food for the soul

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<p>Have you visited the Alzheimer ward of a nursing home lately? If so, you’ll know that it can be a sad place. But did you know that you can do something about it? That as a volunteer, you can bring some joy, not only to your loved one but to many others?</p>

<h2>An impromptu sing-along</h2>
<p>A few months ago, during my regular visit to spend time with my husband who has Alzheimer disease, I took him to his room to touch up his shave. I invited John, another male patient, to join us, as he appeared to enjoy our company. While shaving my husband, I asked John if he would like to sing. Then I started singing “Down by the Old Mill Stream.” He joined in; we sang together and, to my utter surprise, my husband was mouthing the lyrics, despite the fact he was totally unable to speak a sentence.</p>

<h2>A community affair</h2>
<p>No sound was forthcoming, but this didn’t matter. This is what triggered my idea of doing a sing-along with all of the ward residents who showed an interest. To start off our sing-along, I taped 90 minutes of “Sing Along with Mitch.” A friend provided me with three cassettes. Through another friend, I was able to tape 90 minutes of another show for variety.</p>

<h2>A weekly commitment</h2>
<p>I enjoyed doing this activity twice a week until my husband passed away. Now, six weeks later, I am committed as a volunteer to providing a weekly sing-along. I feel a real kinship with these beautiful people and find this to be a source of my own healing and a loving tribute to my husband. Every week we have at least 12 friends join us, some in wheelchairs, some mobile. Music is “food for the soul.” So join me by volunteering in a home near you and help put a smile on the faces of those who live with Alzheimer disease.</p>

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