It's often said that music is the universal language. The people at Music Mends Minds also believe it's great medicine for those struggling with neurodegenerative diseases such as Parikinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia.

  • Neurodegenerative diseases becoming more widespread
  • 'The 5th Dementia Band' helps those affected recover faculties through music
  • Band is rehearsing for annual Valentine's Day concert

The 5th Dementia Band rehearses every week at the Brentwood Presbyterian Church. Although the seniors are there to sing and play, many of the members wouldn't be able to tell you where they live.

Some have lost their ability to speak, like Irwin Rosenstein, a former attorney whose wife, Carol founded Music Mends Minds to improve the quality of life for those with neurodegenerative diseases.

“The word dementia is freaking people out when they get some kind of a diagnosis,” said Carol Rosenstein during a break in rehearsal. “Their families are embarrassed, the patients are embarrassed. Where to go? What to do?”

Rosenstein explained that every three seconds someone in the world is diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease and the looming crisis has been called a “silver tsumani.”

Her husband Irwin, who was diagnosed with end stage dementia, had hit a wall with his medications.

“He doesn't speak anymore,” explained Carol. “But you’ll watch him catch fire on the keyboard.”

Carol noticed that Irwin became more responsive when he was playing piano, so she immediately reported this to his neurologist.

“He very nonchalantly said to me, 'Carol, you're watching the power of music, changing brain chemistry.' Whoa!”

Singer Bill Young has been a member of the group for over a year now.

His wife Amy explained, “Every time that he comes here and he has that microphone, it is like he becomes a totally different person.”

Amy and her family said they couldn’t believe the difference the singing made.

“It wasn't until [our family] would come here in person, see how wonderfully they performed, that they were in tears.

The 5th Dementia Band was rehearsing for their annual Valentine's Day concert as Carol Rosenstein elaborated on Music Mends Minds' mission.

“We're gonna sprinkle bands all over Los Angeles, and de-stigmatize the word dementia, and bring these people out of the shadows,” said Carol.