About ten years ago Eila and I were part of a singing group with our local church. As a group, we would go around to retirement homes and sing songs to the people there, and then have morning or afternoon tea with them. Early on, we had realised that it was no use singing new songs to older people, so we learnt all the old hymns with which the retirement home residents were familiar. The people loved it and they would start singing along with us.

After a few months we were approached to sing in the dementia ward as not many people were willing. This was our first exposure to this terrible condition. Also new to us, was the way the staff were treating their patients. They were encouraging them and singing along, talking differently and having fun. Again, we adapted our singing style to be more interactive. We started singing along to back up music and singing and dancing with the people. It was a pleasurable time for all.

I remember one dear soul who was turning ninety. She had never sung along to the songs, until one day, we sang a song that clicked; her eyes lit up and she started singing. One couple in our group had their niece in this particular dementia ward. They were twenty years older and she did not recognize them.

I never thought that one day I would be facing my wife heading down that same path.

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