In honour of National Volunteer Week, we at the Alzheimer Society of Toronto wanted to do a little something to thank our outstanding volunteers. To showcase the amazing work that they do as an integral part of our mission, we are featuring volunteer stories on the blog this week. Be sure to check back each day for a new volunteer story! This is Shannon’s story.
I have been volunteering with AST since the beginning of 2015 with the Music Project. I also took part in the Walk for Memories in January and plan to continue participating each year.
My Nana, who has always been a big part of my life, was diagnosed with dementia a few years ago. When a very special person in your life is diagnosed with dementia, it is hard to not feel helpless and hopeless at first. The thought of not being able to stop the inevitable outcome was very hard for me to wrap my head around. When I heard about the Music Project (the iPod Project at that time), I knew that, although I couldn’t cure my Nana, I could help by positively impacting the lives of people like her as a volunteer.
Music has always been a large part of my Nana’s life. It got her through the bad times and enhanced the good times. She often told her grandchildren the stories of her days as a singer with pride. She always had music playing in her home or was at the local social dance. As an active person, she loved to go for walks and when music became mobile (initially with a Walkman), she was thrilled that she could enjoy music during her walks. Eventually, as technology advanced, she upgraded to an iPod. Listening to music on an iPod has been very therapeutic for her ever since.
As her dementia has progressed, the value of music in her life has been more and more evident. She may not be able to remember my name but she can sing along perfectly to Danny Boy. She lights up as soon as the music begins. She is full of joy and at peace when she is lost in the music. At that moment, nothing else matters.
I am honoured to be able to be a part of something that will give this joy and peace to others. The Music Project has allowed me to stop feeling helpless and start feeling hopeful. Music will not cure dementia but it will help to make the journey a tiny bit easier.