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Alive Inside - A Bit of Joy For Those Who Suffer From Memory Loss

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posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 02:04 PM
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Oh the wonderful power and awe of music, able to inspire, inform, connect, relieve and even renew purpose. After participating in a music thread today I was reminded of something I felt worthy of sharing here. I ran across this documentary some time ago called Alive Inside.


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.


Many of us have direct experience with loved ones who suffer from Alzheimer's or Dementia. My Grandmother developed dementia in her 80's and it was a surreal experience witnessing the transformation. She slid into depression both from the disease as well as realizing her degradation personally and through the eyes of others reacting to her. One can only imagine the process and naturally understand how depression and confusion take root. I wish I had seen this documentary before she departed, but hopefully today it can serve to help someone somewhere.

This film is filled with some intense moments of both sadness and inspiration, but overall ends on a positive hopeful note. It is so wonderful to see these people smile and even dance again, emerging out of the cocooned gray confusion, detachment and loneliness. Such a simple idea that delivers the universal language as medicine in a sense, and not only bringing immediate sense of happiness but perhaps rekindling those dendrites and engrams to assist in connecting with more memories. Watching the doc made me wonder too about other sources of joy from these patients earlier years such as tv shows that made them laugh and smile. I think about approaching this with a full regimen of memory reconnection, such as pictures, voices, scents and even tastes, as an effort to revive some thought processes. This is done in some cases with coma patients with a degree of success.

I found a good review here to share.
An excerpt:

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.


I wonder about using this technique early in the onset of memory ailments and if that could slow or reduce unfolding symptoms. I hope so and this also made me think of creating a little file of my favorite music to store away,just in case I fall victim to these sufferings.

There is a non-profit organization called Memory and Music for those that wish to connect with this endeavor further.




I hope this may inspire some and arm them with another tool for bringing forth smiles and connection for those that suffer.




posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 02:19 PM
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a reply to: waftist

waftist, thank you so much for putting this great thread together! I really appreciate the subject and your message is fantastic.
Why not one (or more) last dance?
Both of my maternal grandparents suffered from this awful illness. Let's just hope we make tremendous strides, and soon.
That trailer had me in tears, btw.. can't imagine what the whole film's gonna do.
thanks again.



posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 05:00 PM
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a reply to: zosimov

My pleasure zosimov and yea it is powerful stuff especially for those of us who can directly relate through experience.
Such a simple notion and I thought it would make a good read as well as maybe help others that have loved ones experiencing this. "Last dance"(s)…nice


Thanks for your thoughts..



posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 07:49 PM
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Found a little more on the development of documentary.

Another vid on how music can actually heal the brain.



posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 07:52 PM
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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.



posted on Apr, 3 2017 @ 08:08 PM
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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.

Absolutely, the universal language is just that because of it's reach/connection beyond conditioned barriers socially, psychologically and physiologically as well it seems. And yes we can control it and it is pretty much always avaialable.
It is charming how efforts to bring tiny technology(nano and shuffle pods) have had such an effect on people's lives in general and especially in clinical settings. Medicinal music, hear hear!

Thanks for your reply



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