FASHFEST 2017 Masthead
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Monday Moment: Perspective is everything

Emma Grey

We had the great pleasure of going to a performance yesterday from the “Alchemy Choir”.

It’s Australia’s first dementia-friendly choir, for people with dementia and their carers. Because all the songs are from ‘yesteryear’, everyone ‘gets it’ — so much so that, in many cases, it was impossible to tell just watching which member of the couple had dementia and which didn’t.

It was brilliant. And a fantastic example of how to take your situation and make the most of it. 

My eighty-five-year old dad has been a singer all his life. He used to sing in farewell concerts for the service people when he was a little boy living in a country town during World War Two. He won plentiful awards at singing competitions and Eisteddfods and sung in the church choir for many decades, until mum’s condition deteriorated to the point where he couldn’t leave her alone to attend rehearsals.

To have an outlet for this love of singing that is perfectly tailored to their situation, and many others, is truly wonderful. Things can get pretty depressing when dementia hits, but that isn’t a reason to ‘resign’ from life. 

Watching the choir, I realised how lucky the members are. They’re elderly — which is the price people pay for not dying young. They’re getting out and living life to the full, and giving back to their community.

Of course dementia is challenging. It’s heartbreaking. But just as Sheryl Sandberg urges young women to ‘lean in’ to their careers, it’s encouraging to see people ‘leaning in’ to their seventies, eighties and beyond (and younger, in the cases where dementia’s onset is early). 

It was a picture of resilience and adaptation. I can’t wait to see the next gig, now my kids, sister and nieces and I have become groupies, in the same way that our beautiful parents used to be groupies of our concerts and sports games when we were younger. 

For more information about the Alchemy Chorus, click here.

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Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

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