Music is a balm for the soul — and in Carol Rosenstein’s words, “medicine for the mind.”
Carol has seen for herself the healing effects of music, especially when it comes to seniors with dementia. After all, it has drastically improved her husband Irwin’s quality of life, and now she’s using it to heal minds!
Irwin was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and early onset dementia in 2006. In the following years, Carol watched as her husband slowly faded away. He grew more and more confused, eventually wandering away from the house in the middle of the night.
Fortunately, in 2014, Irwin joined a music program at UCLA that connects students and seniors — and the difference was night and day!
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Carol was thrilled to share that “Irwin’s memory, energy, and outlook on life improved dramatically, not only from playing the piano, but from mentoring the students — his new purpose in life.”
Encouraged, Carol started a band for Irwin and other people with similar conditions called the 5th Dementia.
Then she took it a step further and founded Music Mends Minds, a nonprofit that provides musical support groups for people with neurodegenerative diseases. Over the past six years, the organization has created 20 bands in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, and Rwanda!
More than 300 seniors have benefitted from the mental stimulation of playing and singing within their Music Mends Minds communities, and COVID-19 hasn’t slowed them down!
After the novel coronavirus pandemic began, the nonprofit started holding Zoom sessions every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to stave off isolation and keep seniors engaged.
“They can show up and we’ll be there to greet them, to love them, and to have so much fun that they’re going to have some moment of normalcy, which is going to tide them over to the next opportunity that we can all be together,” Carol told CNN. “The ability to connect (online) as an extended family, and to see the smiles and waves, it’s just joyful and healing. This is total therapy.”
What an amazing way to support and empower our seniors! While there is no cure for dementia, music makes living with it easier — and that’s a priceless gift.
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