Sound Minds, a music-therapy program for dementia patients in local memory care facilities, has been launched by First Congregational Church of Akron and is looking for volunteers to attend a training session at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 8.

Studies have shown that music, and its associated memories, are often preserved because key brain areas linked to musical memory are relatively undamaged by Alzheimer’s.

Sound Minds volunteers visit patients in local area nursing homes. During the visit, the volunteers use MP3 players and headphones to allow patients to listen to a personalized selection of music that would have meaning to the person listening.

The music helps stimulate these patients, often causing them to sing or talk, or open up to answering questions about the memories associated with a particular song. Even when old memories are not awakened, music has the power to soothe those who suffer from Sundowner’s Syndrome, a common problem in memory care facilities, when people get agitated, anxious, and fearful in the evening.

According to First Church member Susan Babb, who leads this program with her husband Bernie Babb, "We are all touched to our core by Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Virtually all of us have experienced this in our lives through a parent, grandparent, sibling, spouse, or friend. We all understand, or will, the devastation of this horrible disease. Music gives us the ability to prolong awareness and elicit joy that would not otherwise be experienced."

Anyone interested in volunteering with this program is welcome to attend the information and training session at First Church. Attendees are asked to bring a pair of earbuds or headphones to the training. For reservations, contact the First Church office at 330-253-5109. This training is free and open to the public.