Sing for the Moment choir helps patients with memory

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MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Sing for the Moment is a choir in a Mechanicsburg retirement community created with Alzheimer’s and dementia patients in mind.

Rehearsals began this week, and organizers are still looking for people to participate.

Claudia St. Onge, who lives in Camp Hill, attended the first rehearsal with her daughter, Tammy Leister.

“Oh I love it,” St. Onge said. “I love singing. I sort of grew up with it.”

She remembers her childhood filled with song.

“I grew up in a music house,” St. Onge said.

“My grandmother was an organist. My grandfather was a voice technician,” Leister said.

It’s the memories now that worry Leister.

“She forgets things by the minute,” Leister said.

It’s difficult, Leister says, but today they’re not alone. The mother and daughter joined the Sing for the Moment choir at Bethany Village in Mechanicsburg.

It’s a special group for people with memory loss, like St. Onge.

“It’s a great way to help with their moods and cognitive impairments,” Olivia Maturano, who works at the Alzheimer’s Association, said.

The association calls it music therapy.

“While their language is very affected, they may not be able to speak as well through verbage, music is another thing,” Maturano said. “So when they listen to music, oftentimes they’ll be able to sing along.”

It’s a sense of empowerment you can see on the patients’ faces, as well as volunteers’ mixed in the choir.

On St. Onge’s face is a look of remembering.

“She’s smiling now,” her daughter said.

“Every time I’m involved in any kind of music, it reminds me of home, the old days at home,” St. Onge said.

After two months of weekly practice, the choir’s grand finale is a performance at Bethany Village on June 11.Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download our News App and our Weather App for your phone and tablet.

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