Live Long and Master Aging podcast



Mending minds through the power of music

Carol Rosenstein: Cofounder, Music Mends Minds

Carol Rosenstein is the cofounder of Music Mends Minds. Launched in Los Angeles, with her husband Irwin, the nonprofit organization creates musical groups for people with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and similar disorders.
Music is a universal language that bridges cultures, defies barriers and brings joy to our lives. However, for those with neurological conditions, music can do much more than elevate a person’s mood. Some group members have demonstrated a level of coordination and coherency they hadn’t displayed in years, according to Carol. She believes it’s all thanks to the power of music.
In this LLAMA podcast interview with Peter Bowes, Carol explains the beneficial impact of music for members of Music Mends Minds, including Irwin, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and early dementia more than a decade ago. Carol also discusses why it’s important for a person to have something they care about and work toward later in life. We also hear from Music Mends Minds members Gene Sterling and Diana Davidow – both of whom are living with neurological disorders.  They explain how music has enhanced their lives in recent years.
Published on: 3 Sep 2018 @ 14:30 PST


Connect with Carol Rosenstein and Music Mends Minds  Website | The 5th Dementia BandFacebook | Twitter

In this interview we discover:

  • How Carol was inspired to start the 5th Dementia Band 12 years ago, after her husband, Irwin, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
“It’s a non-judgmental, non-critical environment. Nobody is put on the spot. Nobody’s told that they’re not singing in pitch or that they have to pay more attention to the rhythm.”
  • Why Carol believes listening to and playing music should be a part of life for anyone who wishes to remain coherent and connected to the world as they age.
“Everyone is high on life, at the close of a concert, because of what the music is doing to everybody.”
  • What happens in the brain during the storage of music memory?
  • How violinists and trumpeters in the group can play “flawless”music, despite their illnesses.
“It’s been a magic carpet ride. It’s been a project I never would have dreamed would have taken off at this alarming rate.”
  • The solace people with neurological disorders find in playing music together at Music Mends Minds.
  • Academic collaboration: Music Mends Minds is working with Dr. Mary Mittelman, a research professor from the Dept. of Psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine, looking at the effect of music on people with dementia.
  • The positive mental and physical breakthroughs Carol has witnessed in the musicians, including her husband, of the 5th Dementia.
“As he would sit playing the piano quietly in our home, he would somehow resurrect and become engaged in the environment again.”
  • Why music can remain in a person’s memory years after much of their memory has faded.
  • How Carol believes people can still enjoy their lives, despite living with neurological disorders.

“We are smiling and laughing together and forgetting the woes that seem to follow us where ever we go.”

  • What lesson Carol has learned from her work at Music Mends Minds and what she plans to focus on as she ages.

“On this list of how to stay young and forestall the aging process … we’re going to have to add music in capital letters.”

Peter also talks to band members.

  • Gene Sterling was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease about five years ago.  He has been a musician for much of his life continues to perform. Music Mends Minds has helped him integrate his profession with the work of the ensemble. He says, “the stimulation of music sort of affects all events for me. It’s out there like a big floral field of beautiful flowers and other vegetation.”
  • Diana Davidow is an artist and a singer, formerly a speech pathologist, and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease almost 7 years ago. On the impact of music of her fellow band members she says: “It’s great to be able to have this connection to the real world…it’s not all gone.”

Carol has been nominated as a CNN hero, for her work with Music Mends Minds.  Read the story here

The 5th Dementia Band recently featured on BBC World Service radio: Listen here: Meet ‘The 5th Dementia Band’

Music Mends Minds (MMM) has worked in collaboration with Rotary International clubs for three years. Says Carol: “Rotarians exposed to Music Mends Minds’ mission understand the importance of creating musical support group bands of seniors as a community outreach program through their clubs, for those with neurodegenerative decline, traumatic brain injury, stroke, and PTSD.” The volunteer service oriented organization has 33 thousand global clubs with over 1.2 million members.

Music Mends Minds is turning 4 years old. On Saturday 15th September, 2018, at the Brentwood Presbyterian Church, Brentwood, CA, the 5th Dementia band will be playing at a “big bash” celebration concert. To find out more check out MMM’s Facebook page or email

Follow us on twitter: @LLAMApodcast