For those suffering from the effects of Alzheimer's Disease, communicating and maintaining emotional ties with loved ones is very difficult. However, the latest New Yorkers of the Week have found that singing is a great way to keep those ties strong. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
With each lyric, a group of singers with Alzheimer's relive meaningful moments.
"Here the music is bringing up memories of words and actions and feelings that many times people think they don’t have any more, and realize they do have. When we see them look at each other during a love song it’s like, that’s what this is all about," says Dale Lamb.
Bringing those emotions out are Tania Papayannopoulou and Dale Lamb, the conductors of "The Unforgettables Chorus." For the past three years, they've worked together like rhythm and beat, teaching music that lifts spirits.
"We bring back the opportunity for these people who have Alzheimer's to feel like they’re part of something again, feel like their identity is found again. They have an opportunity to shine and show who they are, because that’s lost," says Papayannopoulou.
“People who have Alzheimer’s feel very handicapped and feel very much alone, they give you a feeling of being wanted, being a part of a group, being not laughed at, not ridiculed,” says Josephine Abrams, a member of the Chorus.
Beyond that sense of community, the members of the chorus are able to reconnect emotional ties with their loved ones. They meet every Thursday at St. Peter's Church on Manhattan's East Side. They perform seasonal concerts, and the program is free.
"Our relationship is always a pain in the neck," jokes Tenna Hirsh.
"It's something we do together and we love to do it together," adds Georgia Harbison.
"He likes the romantic songs: Besame, besame mucho como si fuera ésta noche la última vez," sings Lin Jacobson to her husband, Manny, who has dementia.
"So, this I what it has enabled us to do and to continue having a very different relationship than we would otherwise have. Right, sweetie?" she says.
And so, for reigniting memories and emotions through music, Tania Papayannopoulou and Dale Lamb are our New Yorkers of the Week.