Music Mends Minds: A CNN Hero’s mission finds a new need during the pandemic


Studies present that for seniors, social isolation will increase the danger of creating dementia by almost 50%. For these already experiencing cognitive decline, it is taking a fair larger toll.

“Diagnoses of some form of neurodegenerative decline brings such isolation to the patient and the families,” stated 2018 CNN Hero Carol Rosenstein. “Covid just makes this doubly difficult for our seniors to sustain their levels of wellness … We are going to see people deteriorating faster.”

Rosenstein’s husband, Irwin, has been battling Parkinson’s illness and dementia for greater than a decade. In 2014, after witnessing how taking part in music helped him, Rosenstein began a band for Irwin and others with neurodegenerative illnesses. They known as themselves the fifth Dementia.

Since 2014, her nonprofit, Music Mends Minds, has created 20 bands which have improved the high quality of life for greater than 200 individuals.

And during the pandemic, Rosenstein believes their music is as necessary as ever.

Mounting scientific proof reveals that listening and taking part in music is useful for individuals with neurodegenerative illnesses.

“Music is a language of the brain. It is a complex, auditory language and it stimulates the brain in many different ways. It stimulates feelings, thinking processes, the motor system,” stated Dr. Michael Thaut, director of the Music and Health Science Research Collaboratory at the University of Toronto.

Dr. Thaut says musical engagement can scale back moments of confusion, disorientation or agitation. He equates reminiscence to a community that may be unlocked by music.

“When a musical memory is triggered in people with memory disorders, they don’t just remember the song, they also usually remember some other autobiographical memories that are connected,” Thaut stated. “They remember at least for a moment where they are and who they are. And that can lead to very good, important moments, sometimes very emotional scenes where there is a reconnect for a moment, a recognition.”

When Covid-19 hit, Rosenstein moved her group’s programming on-line. Participants now meet just about a number of instances a week to play music collectively. Rosenstein says their work has been essential.

“What the world needs now is music. Music is medicine for the mind,” she stated. “We can bring such happiness and hope in this moment of relative despair.”

CNN’s Laura Klairmont spoke with Rosenstein about her present efforts. Below is an edited model of their dialog.

CNN: How has elevated isolation during Covid-19 particularly impacted seniors, particularly these with dementia?

Carol Rosenstein: We are guided by love and contact, and due to our quarantine scenario, a lot of these residing alone now are lacking the human contact, the smile. Isolation is bringing a nice extra stress to all of us.

I do know residing with my darling husband Irwin, who’s finish stage dementia now and Parkinson’s prognosis of 14 years, routine is the operative phrase for him. So, we have now a routine of what guides us by way of his day to maintain him as content material as doable. We are all creatures of routine, and the concept of routine for these individuals is so necessary.

This isolation is bringing with it a enormous toll, however we are able to present a nice substitute that’s going to carry us and preserve us wholesome and properly during the subsequent many months that we’re nonetheless going to be in quarantine. Our work is so vitally necessary as a result of we’re in a position to carry music as drugs for the thoughts to all people. And we’re persevering with to see enchancment of all people.

CNN: How is your group’s on-line programming offering connection for members?

Rosenstein: We needed to abandon in-person get-togethers and I used to be considering, “How the heck are we going to survive on our important mission?” We meet (on-line) Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 1 to 2 pm. Our digital periods have about 30 to 35 individuals.

They can present up and we’ll be there to greet them, to like them, and to have a lot enjoyable that they’ll have some second of normalcy, which goes to tide them over to the subsequent alternative that we are able to all be collectively. It would not matter the place on the continuum you might be. But for those who’re ready to connect with a platform in your laptop or cellphone, in your pill, it is possible for you to to come back alive with all of us and never really feel remoted. I by no means anticipated that so many would discover the braveness and confidence to sign that they wish to sing us a track.

The means to attach (on-line) as an prolonged household, and to see the smiles and waves, it is simply joyful and therapeutic. This is whole remedy. We have many generations of households. And it is so touching to see mothers and daughters and grandchildren singing collectively, waving, blowing kisses. It’s what we’re lacking at this loopy and turbulent time. I’ve watched our individuals proceed to glitter. They’re discovering their confidence, their self-worth. And it is actually shocked me that we nonetheless proceed to see individuals enhance utilizing the energy of music during our present circumstances.

CNN: Why is it so necessary for individuals to have interaction with seniors during this time, and what are some protected methods to try this?

Rosenstein: It’s vital for everybody to really feel the love that we’re lacking in particular person. Bring some consideration to them. Because that is what they’re hanging on to whereas they’re on the continuum of decline. It’s simply vital. Otherwise, we’ll be working into a a lot greater emotional, psychological difficulty in our nation and in the world.

To do that safely is crucial. Do drive-bys and kisses by way of home windows. Reach out in security to these round you who could need to know that you’re considering of them. Keep your hearts open. Have compassion. If you are residing distances aside, use the web to succeed in out and converse to family members so they’re reassured that they aren’t alone. Or come and see what Music Mends Minds is doing.

This is a very, very troublesome time and we have all bought to be on this collectively. We’ve all bought to remain related in a roundabout way. And we have to unfold like to all people.

Want to become involved? Check out the Music Mends Minds website and see the best way to assist.

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