As we all make choices in how we spend our money, and decide on which initiatives to support, the deciding gets complicated. Many years ago we decided to concentrate our giving on fewer needs, but to increase our overall giving at the same time.
Then about fifteen years ago, two things happened. Cath’s Mother was diagnosed with dementia, which ultimately became Alzheimer’s. This condition required her to move to a suitable care home, and we, together with two others, started putting together shows of “songs of yesterday” and entertaining at care homes in West and North Vancouver.
Then ten years ago Cath’s Dad needed more and more care, ultimately needing 24- hour care, while still being at home. We thus became very aware of how the elderly, and sadly sometimes the “not-so-elderly,” need enjoyment in life while in care. Certainly warmth, medical attention and food are necessities. But “enjoyment” is something extra.
We experienced the needs part in a very personal way in caring for Cath’s parents, but we became more and more aware of the amazing effect our shows had on all elderly residents of the care homes, and especially dementia sufferers. Putting on these shows became, and remains, an important part of our calendar. It is said that “Music is the last part of the brain to let go”, and this has been proven to us countless times as we see audience members mouthing the words or tapping their feet or fingers to our songs, while ordinarily being withdrawn or even mute. They really enjoy it.
When we were introduced to Voices in Motion, a research project to study the benefits of singing to hopefully slow the advance of Alzheimer’s, we immediately saw the importance of it continuing past the research stage to become a widespread activity across Victoria and as far and wide as possible.
The value of having teenagers included is immeasurable, for both the youth and the seniors. Watching the smiles on all their faces as they sing together is the simple proof that this is an important part of bringing enjoyment to otherwise declining lives.
And thus important to us.