Music Mends Minds: Seniors stay sharp by singing in Ansonia

Connecticut Families

ANSONIA, Conn. (WTNH) — With big smiles, confident voices and natural rhythm, these mature singers come together for an experience that’s therapeutic and just plain fun.

“It’s called Music Mends Minds,” explains coordinator Judy Nicolari.

First created on the West Coast, she brought this effort to New England in honor of a loved one.

“I had a sister that just died of dementia and I know how much she loved music,” says Nicolari. “She knew every word to every song and she understood that music mends minds. She understood the concept.”

The healing power of music can help those dealing with the effects of stroke, Parkinson’s or PTSD. Singing can also be easier than conversing for a person struggling with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

“This makes you remember your past. It’s hard for them to remember the future and the present but they can draw from the past,” says 87-year-old Pat Lesiw, who does not suffer from memory loss but she knows that singing keeps her sharp.

Participants are bused to the Doyle Senior Center from various convalescent homes allowing them to get out and make connections.

“I like the togetherness because I didn’t know these people before but now we have one thing in common,” says Lesiw. “I’m familiar with all the songs. They’re upbeat – they’re songs I knew back in my era.”

“That’s one of my top priorities – for it to be a good time,” says Nicolari who always wears a big smile, and sometimes even a purple, feather boa!

She invites caregivers to join-in and fill their hearts with song. She believes lyrics, tunes and companionship merge to provide the best medicine there is.

“Just the smile on their faces makes you feel good,” she says.

“You know, you can’t be mad when you’re singing,” says Lesiw. “You cannot be angry at anybody when you’re singing. It just brings everybody together.”

Nicolari is planning a Music Mends Minds concert for the public, which they hope will take place around the holidays.

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