Caring can be a rewarding and satisfying experience.
Yet, when you are looking after someone with dementia, the experience can be challenging, exhausting and lonely.
Finding time for yourself is essential for good self-care, whether that is to sleep, get your hair done, meet friends for coffee or to go to the gym.
As tiring as it can seem, it’s important you don’t cut yourself off from social situations.
For most people, a job working with others provides the social time that keeps despondency and depression at bay, but if most of the time, it’s just you and the person you are caring for, if younger family members have their own job, social life and interests, it’s hard to not become isolated.
Just as socialisation is an important stimulus for the person you are looking after, it is also a necessary aspect of your life as a person and carer.
Fortunately, there are groups and meetups that will welcome you if you’re looking to get out but are anxious about going out by yourself. One such meetup opportunity is going to a choir.
Choirs have become an increasingly popular pastime for people from all walks of life. People love to sing, but don’t necessarily want to take part in the X-Factor or the Voice. Thanks to people like Gareth Malone, choirs are springing up everywhere in different communities.
Physical and mental health benefits
In 2017, East Anglia Universtiy released a study that extolled the benefits of singing as part of a group. The study examined the project Sing Your Heart Out, which welcomed participants who had been suffering with mental illness. By the end of the research period, members of the singing group reported improvements to their mental health or a maintained level of their current mental health state.
It is also thought that singing promotes wellbeing, belonging, reduction of stress and a release of oxytocin and endorphins: our feelgood hormones. The very act of improved, regulated breathing also helps from a physical perspective.
Offers opportunities for socialisation and friendship
You get to be part of a group, not only during singing, but you will have the opportunity to chat with people before and after the rehearsal. But if you don’t like sitting around and chatting to people all the time, there is no pressure to be a great conversationalist. Instead, you can simply enjoy the song.
In addition, when you are in a group divided into sopranos, altos, tenors and bass, you become very supportive of your small section in the choir: a support that is reciprocated.
Singing in a choir gives you a couple of hours in the week to be yourself. Maybe you don’t know anyone, and that can be beneficial, since no-one will see you as a carer, they will just see you. You don’t even have to talk about your caring duties and can have a well-earned break.
The advantage of choirs is that they meet at regular times, so that means you can plan your schedule ahead of time and book regular hours with the Me2U Centre.
Singing is also empowering. If you are working towards a performance, you will be feeling nervous, but the elation after having succeeded in delivering a memorable performance boosts your confidence. You also have the opportunity to perform in lots of wonderful places around your local city or even beyond. Ordinarily, the average person would struggle to perform on stage, but with a choir, the possibilities are unlimited.
You don’t have to be the next Adele or Sam Smith to take part. Not all choirs require you to audition, so you can attend rehearsals without fear of judgement.
In fact, if you’re looking to join a choir, why not consider auditioning a few different choirs yourself and see which one you like the best?