Dorothy LeBlanc isn’t a therapist, but she has some ideas about why Alzheimer’s patients like her rollicking, one-hour oldies show.
“You can see it in their eyes,” LeBlanc said one afternoon at Charlie’s Place.
Caregivers drop off patients at Charlie’s Place, 3772 North Blvd. The center, operated by Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, gives caregivers some time to themselves and patients the chance to be with their peers.
LeBlanc bills her show for elderly audiences as “a celebration of the music of the early to mid-1900s.”
Her audiences are usually older people in retirement communities, but LeBlanc enjoys performing for Alzheimer’s patients.
“It takes so much to process music,” said the 54-year-old homemaker who’s been playing guitar since she was a child.
“There’s movement,” she said. “They’ll sing, clap their hands and move their feet. One lady dances.”
LeBlanc’s talking about her Alzheimer’s fans.
“They respond to music more than anything else,” said Dana Territo, director of services at Charlie’s Place.
“It’s a lot of fun, instead of sitting there moping,” said Glenda DeLong who was spending the day at Charlie’s Place.
“I’d love to come every day,” said Bennell Landry, 86.
The Charlie’s Place audience picked up the words to LeBlanc’s songs in the first few notes, songs like “You Are My Sunshine,” “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home,” “Blue Moon” and “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.”
“They love her,” said Ed Picard, respite center coordinator. “They’re upbeat. It brings them back to the moment.”
For more information on Charlie’s Place, call (225) 334-7494 or visit http://www.brhope.com. High-functioning to moderate Alzheimer’s patients may spend a six-hour day at Charlie’s Place twice a week.
LeBlanc rode to Charlie’s Place from her home in Broadmoor on her Honda scooter, guitar strapped to her back.
“This is my freebie,” she said. “I don’t get paid much for performing other places, just enough to keep me in guitar strings.”
At Charlie’s Place, patients exercise, play games, cook, garden, do Bible study and talk to children who visit the center.
The respite center takes its name from Charlie Valluzzo, Charlie Lamar and the late Charlie Spera, Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area board members. You may reach LeBlanc at (225) 270-0114; email, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.dorothyleblanc.com.