Sandy and Jon Miller of Downers Grove are passionate about music and its power to bring people together. While running seven choirs for older adults in Chicagoland, they heard about a Twin Cities-based choir for people with dementia.
After visiting the choir, the couple returned home determined to bring the same joy to Chicago. Two years later, they launched Good Memories in 2018.
With branches in Chicago’s Gold Coast and in Evanston, the Good Memories choir encourages people with early-stage memory loss and their care partners to sing along with volunteers during structured weekly rehearsals. Participants don’t need a formal dementia diagnosis or previous musical experience.
Singing together provides connection among people with memory loss, their care partners, and community volunteers without memory loss — all valued participants. “There is so much shame with memory loss, and people naturally withdraw and isolate. Part of this model that is so beautiful is we never identify who is who,” Jon says.
Caregivers benefit, too. “The care partners report a sense of relief from exhaustion and isolation, as this is a community of people — including our singing volunteers — who understand and accept them,” Sandy says.