Alzheimer's choir is a 'lifeline' to sufferers

Choir members singing
Members of the Forget Me Not choir Photo: Credit: ITV News Wales

A choir formed for people with dementia and their families has given John - as well as Julie - a new lease of life.

The Forget Me Not choir in Rhiwbina, Cardiff started life as a project with the Welsh National Opera (WNO). Half the members have Alzheimer's, and half the members are their parents, friends and carers.

Julie's husband John has always loved music. Ten years ago, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. His memory and ability to communicate has been deteriorating ever since.

I cannot express the difference the choir makes to our lives. We look forward to coming out - John is a very social person. You can tell that he's happy. He smiles, his eyes light up and he laughs a lot.

– Julie Stacey
James Akande stretching arms in warm up
Warming up: choir member James Akande Credit: ITV News Wales

James says: "As far as I can remember, since I was a young boy I usually go to choir anyhow, because I like singing." His wife and carer Mary Rose says coming here has made a big difference to their relationship.

Speaking from personal experience the carer is the dominant one who organises everything and chivies and so on and when we come to singing it's more of a balance, more of an equilibrium.

– Mary Rose Akande
Kate conducting the choir
Kate Woolveridge, choir leader Credit: ITV News Wales

Choir leader Kate sings with WNO but gives her free time to the choir, saying it has an incredibly positive effect on members, both carers and those with dementia.

There's a real buzz, a great energy, a real forgetting of all your cares whatever they might be. It's about having your voice heard. And often people with dementia lose confidence. This once again gives them a voice.

– Kate Woolveridge

In May the choir will be performing a range of songs in the public performance area of the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff.