Mercer Island seniors sing from their songbooks in the Fellowship Hall at Covenant Living at the Shores on July 17. Madeline Coats/staff photo
                                 Pastor Greg Asimakoupoulos and Rotarian Karen Dunning guided the group through 15 songs during the sing-a-long program. Madeline Coats/staff photo

Mercer Island seniors sing from their songbooks in the Fellowship Hall at Covenant Living at the Shores on July 17. Madeline Coats/staff photo Pastor Greg Asimakoupoulos and Rotarian Karen Dunning guided the group through 15 songs during the sing-a-long program. Madeline Coats/staff photo

A monthly sing-a-long program uses music to support patients with memory loss

Music Mends Minds places emphasis on music therapy as a way to delay neurodegenerative dementia.

Just as the clock strikes 3 p.m., Pastor Greg Asimakoupoulos begins singing “America the Beautiful.” Before even looking at their song books, the large group of seniors instantly sing along to each word as if the lyrics are burned into their memories.

Music Mends Minds (MMM), an acapella sing-a-long program, takes place every month in the Fellowship Hall at Covenant Living at the Shores. The most recent event was July 17.

MMM is a nonprofit organization that uses music to support patients with Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injury, stroke and PTSD.

Pastor Asimakoupoulos and Rotarian Karen Dunning guided the group through 15 songs from 3-3:30 p.m. before heading upstairs to the Reflections Dining Room to continue singing with the members in the memory wing.

“About 18 months ago I learned of the Music Mends Minds program throughout Rotary club,” Asimakoupoulos said. “Since my mom has had dementia for the last 12 years, I was interested from the get go.”

Asimakoupoulos would make up his own lines to songs, yet each participant still continued to follow his lead. The pastor occasionally added fun facts to each song in an attempt to highlight historical events or people.

“I have witnessed firsthand how singing songs has kept me engaged with my 92-year-old mother. It is truly amazing how lyrics to songs (learned 80 years ago) are retained when a person cannot remember what they had to eat 15 minutes ago,” he said.

The sing-a-long conveyed a sense of excitement within the crowd as numerous people expressed joy after simply hearing the title of an upcoming song.

“Oh, boy,” shouted one person from the crowd before singing “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” halfway through the program.

Each song only lasted 6-10 lines, but the participants still clapped along and tapped on their chairs to create rhythm. Many members of the group even mentioned playing instruments when they were younger, such as piano and banjo.

People came alive as the program progressed. At one point, everyone started making fun of the Mariner’s losing streak before singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”

MMM was founded by Carol and Irwin Rosenstein in Los Angeles after their own success story with music and social support. Irwin’s diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease and then early dementia was made easier from playing piano and mentoring students.

The organization is continuing to research the efforts of music therapy as a viable alternative treatment in delaying the symptoms of neurodegenerative dementia. According to their website (https://www.musicmendsminds.org/), music seems to be retained in the brain differently from other sorts of cognition.

Aegis of Mercer Island is a new assisted living community that also focuses on memory care. The facility intends to start a similar sing-a-long program on the second Tuesday of the month, beginning on Aug. 13. Aegis and Covenant Living both use songbooks with lyrics from 300 “golden oldies.”

The next program at Covenant Living at the Shores will be from 3 to 4 p.m. on Aug. 21.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@mi-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.mi-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

Mercer Island seniors sing from their songbooks in the Fellowship Hall at Covenant Living at the Shores on July 17. Madeline Coats/staff photo
                                 Pastor Greg Asimakoupoulos and Rotarian Karen Dunning guided the group through 15 songs during the sing-a-long program. Madeline Coats/staff photo

Mercer Island seniors sing from their songbooks in the Fellowship Hall at Covenant Living at the Shores on July 17. Madeline Coats/staff photo Pastor Greg Asimakoupoulos and Rotarian Karen Dunning guided the group through 15 songs during the sing-a-long program. Madeline Coats/staff photo

[flipp]

More in Life

Medic One Foundation’s Gratitude Meals offer support to first responders, local businesses

The initiative provides hearty lunches to first responders staffing the COVID-19 testing sites as they work to test their colleagues.

UW students create Spira app to gather COVID-19 data

The app was created to screen for respiratory diseases but the teen creators shifted their focus once the COVID-19 outbreak began.

‘Don’t assume it can’t happen to you’

Federal Way resident Evelyn Allcorn shares story of her husband’s battle with COVID-19 after he tested positive on March 28.

Courtesy photo
                                Volunteers at a March 14 work party for Harvest Against Hunger.
Mercer Island Rotarians help fight hunger

COVID-19 regulations impact hunger relief efforts.

Sisters Mackenzie Wilson (left) and Natalie Wilson delivering groceries to a neighbor’s doorstep. Courtesy photo
Lending a helping hand

Community group assists Islanders in need during pandemic.

Changes to Mercer Island Youth and Family Services during COVID-19

Food Pantry gives gift cards, counseling goes virtual.

Savannah Lynn and Will Chadek in the Second Story Repertory of Redmond’s production of “The Fantasticks.” “The Fantasticks” had been performed three times by the organization until coronavirus concerns resulted in the cancellation of the remaining dates. Photo by Michael Brunk
How is the coronavirus affecting the arts?

Representatives from Eastside arts institutions discuss their experiences.

Courtesy photo
                                Brody Newcomer (left) and Matthew Duffie, two Sunday school children at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on Mercer Island, pose with a change collection bank for the church’s Lent fundraiser with RIP Medical Debt.
Forgiving debt for Lent

Mercer Island church raising $20,000 to eliminate the $2 million of medical debt in King County.

Libraries are the place to go according to poll

Library will host short film festival on March 20.

Photo courtesy of Mercer Island Sister City Association
                                Most of the Mercer Island delegation in Thonon, France, overlooking Lac Leman (Lake Geneva).
Sister city relationship continues

Mercer Island mayor signs agreement with mayor of Thonon les Bains, France.

Declutter your body and mind | Health column

A monthly health column about naturopathic medicine.