Follow CBSMIAMI.COM: Facebook | Twitter

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A nationwide program is helping dementia and Parkinson’s patients cope with their illnesses through music.

81-year old Irwin Rosenstein has battled Parkinson’s Disease and dementia for more than a decade. Even as his illness began to steal much of his mind, his wife says his love for music endured.

“He was sitting playing piano in our home and like a dried flower getting a drink of water, he would resurrect,” explained Carol Rosenstein.

That gave Carol an idea to start a band for Irwin and others like him. She created a program called ‘Music Mends Minds,’ bringing together former musicians who suffer from neurological disorders like dementia and Parkinson’s.

“Most of these people couldn’t tell you their name or their address and you put them together in a musical environment and they come alive,” said Carol.

Dr. Jeff Bronstein says the music helps revive old memories.

“There’s a real link between pleasure centers and music and memory, there all well connected in the brain so I think this is really tapping into a lot of things that they’ve learned earlier in their life,” explained Dr. Bronstein, a professor of Neurologist at UCLA.

Parkinson’s patient Diana Davidow sings with the original group and says it’s given her an outlet to be with people who understand her struggles.

“So nice to be with people who don’t have to be a certain way, just be yourself, and we encourage each other so wonderfully,” said Diana.

Music Mends Minds, which brings people together one song at a time, is now helping form bands in cities across the country, and the world including Canada and the Philippines.