The 5th Dementia Flagship Band in Los Angeles is Music Mends Minds’ first band. Another will soon start in Mercer Island. Photo courtesy of Mercer Island Rotary

The 5th Dementia Flagship Band in Los Angeles is Music Mends Minds’ first band. Another will soon start in Mercer Island. Photo courtesy of Mercer Island Rotary

Mercer Island Rotary Club launches Music Mends Minds program

The goal is to help seniors with cognitive decline find community through music.

The Rotary Club of Mercer Island is looking for musicians, singers and volunteers as it launches a new program, “Music Mends Minds,” to help people with dementia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cognitive decline.

The first program will be on Oct. 23 at the Mercer Island Congregational Church, and will continue to be held from 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of each month.

Music Mends Minds is a public 501(c)(3) nonprofit fostering musical support groups or sing-alongs for seniors with neurodegenerative diseases. It can also be effective for those recovering from a stroke, suffering from memory loss through a traumatic brain injury and for veterans with PTSD.

The groups create a community with the musicians, families, friends and caregivers. Music Mends Minds also aims to educate people about the latest scientific findings on the benefits of music for the brain.

With an aging population, the health care industry is facing a pandemic of seniors with neurological diseases including dementia. But according to the Music Mends Minds website, science continues to prove the power of music.

Research shows that music storage remains intact for many patients. In spite of their disease process, their ability to play music and recollect lyrics is maintained.

“This empowers our seniors, increasing their self-worth, confidence and identity,” the website states. “They feel whole and healthy again in the midst of music making.”

Music Mends Minds was founded three years ago, and is now a Rotary Action Group. Club members decided to start the program on Mercer Island after hearing about it from Amy Huggins of Vashon Rotary.

The Mercer Island committee is chaired by John Nelson, and other members include Petra Walker, Shirley Silky, Bob Olsen and Greg Asimakoupoulos. The committee is reaching out to adult family homes, senior facilities and several other clubs and organizations for participants with various stages of dementia, who could be receptive to doing sing-alongs.

See www.mirotary.org for more.

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