Kathy Good

A special vocal chorus is being assembled in eastern Iowa specifically for people who are living with chronic health conditions, and for their care partners.

Kathy Good, director of the Family Caregivers Center at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, says weekly choir rehearsals start next week with a concert scheduled for November.

“It’s about singing, of course, but it’s about more than singing,” Good says. “It’s about reducing isolation, giving people who are living with chronic conditions meaning and purpose in their lives, as well as providing an opportunity for performance and for those of us who are not living with chronic conditions, the opportunity to hear something pretty wonderful.” Organizers say the “Together in Song” chorus is designed to spark memories and create meaningful connections for people who are living with dementia and other chronic conditions.

“Oftentimes, people, particularly if they’re living with some sort of cognitive issue or chronic condition, people can sing sometimes when they can’t even speak,” Good says. “It reaches different parts of your brain and for those people who are not living with some sort of cognitive condition, it does good for them to exercise their brain in that way.”

It’s hoped around two-dozen people sign up for the choir, which will perform nine familiar songs from decades past during a concert called “Sentimental Journey.” Good says she got the idea from a care center in St. Paul, Minnesota, which launched a choir just for people living with dementia.

“We broadened it for people that are living with other kinds of chronic conditions, too, because Parkinsons, arthritis, diabetes, COPD and all kinds of chronic conditions, because that’s who the Caregivers Center serves.” Dementia studies are finding that people who struggle with remembering names or dates can often still recall song lyrics.

The free concert is open to anyone and is scheduled for 1 p.m. on November 19th at the Hallagan Education Center at Mercy in Cedar Rapids.