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Alive Inside: A Story of Memory and Music, directed by Michael Rossato-Bennet, is a moving multifaceted documentary about music’s ability to awaken seniors with Alzheimer’s disease and other debilitating types of dementia.
"Alive Inside" Alzheimer's Movie Review
It follows the journey of Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music and Memory, whose mission is simple — see to it that every nursing home resident has an MP3 player pre-loaded with their favorite music. At the same time, Alive Inside effectively delves into the deep themes of aging, mortality and the state of U.S. nursing homes.
In a 2012 interview about music therapy, Cohen told us about the breathtaking transformations music can provoke:
“People actually awaken and can sing the music when they hear it — a wonderful thing for families and caregivers to experience after watching their loved ones’ transformations into strangers.”
Alive Inside- Dan Cohen
Cohen continues, “You see, people often lose their sense of self and identity in a nursing home or assisted living facility. Nursing home staff know who someone is as far as [his or her] medication or daily routine, but actually knowing who people are —and their past— is a different story. Through music, senior housing staff and their residents are able to connect as a resident’s reaction to music can bring up fascinating questions, stories and conversations of the resident’s past.”
Alive Inside allows us to witness these awakenings first hand. In the film’s opening scene we meet a 90-year-old woman who apologizes to director Rossato-Bennet, because she can’t recall anything when he questions her about her past life. Then headphones are placed over her ears. It’s Louis Armstrong’s classic rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The woman’s expression transforms. Tears of joy well up. The elderly woman begins to talk about her past and the memories and emotions the song has evoked. The music has transformed her.
The turnaround is near miraculous. In these moments of joy and ecstasy the senior’s beautiful and authentic self, which has been shrouded by dementia, shines through. They are no longer just nursing home patients, but unique and interesting people experiencing the moment (which is all we ever have) in its fullest. As the film progresses, we meet many more individuals in nursing homes who have retreated into themselves with no sign of returning to the here and now. Their capacity to communicate or comprehend is, in fact, in doubt when we meet many of them. Invariably, the music they love brings them to life.
We see that by sharing music with residents we are also providing them with a chance to share a part of themselves. This is no small thing for the approximately half of nursing home residents who, as the film sadly notes, do not receive regular visitors. Without visitors or an opportunity to express themselves fully, nursing home patients may be deprived of fulfilling the natural role of elders as teachers, storytellers, family historians and transmitters of aspects of culture that may fade away.
originally posted by: StoutBroux
Love this thread. I've always believed that music is one of the most powerful forces we have. It can effect so much in us, our emotions, memories, moods, energy, physical reactions, it is truly awesome. And, we can control it for the most part.