2 Cents: Alive Inside *NoMusic = NoLife*

This is a very heart warming piece that is sure to uplift your spirits, even if you’re in the worst of moods.

Alive Inside is a project/documentary that is geared towards the elderly with dementia and Alzheimer’s. The idea is that music can help the elderly become more alert and aware, sort of give them back their identity, even if only for a little while. The therapist in the video, fills an iPod with music for an elderly man, Henry, whose been in a nursing home for about 10 years. The music is from his era.

When you first meet Henry, he is inactive and doesn’t really respond well to questions that don’t have a ‘yes or no’ answer. When the music is given to him, he is an entirely different person. His face lights up, he starts moving his arms and singing! After a few minutes, the music is taken away and he was asked some questions. He was extremely enthusiastic about answering them because they were about music.

The fact that this man gained a new, second wind from listening to music that he is familiar with is just AWESOME. I’m a firm believer in NoMusic = NoLife and this project proves it. Here is the video on the project.

So now that you’ve watched it, you might just want to check out the screenings they are having. Here is the information, taken from http://www.rmanyc.org/pages/load/301.

***** A film by Michael Rossato-Bennett. An Ximotion Film.

Presented in association with the Alzheimer’s Association, New York City Chapter

How is it that music can bypass the ravages of dementia? In this new documentary, neuropsychologist Oliver Sacks and others explore the channels that music courses in the brain and what it might mean for the future of Alzheimer’s treatment. 

Ticket includes Q&A with Alzheimer’s specialists & post-program information table staffed by experts from the Alzheimer’s Association, New York City Chapter.


Wednesday, April 18 –  7:00 p.m.  – $20  This screening is now sold out.

Social worker Dan Cohen, whose iPod Project is featured in the film, engages with Dr. Scott Small, Professor of Neurology at Columbia University, after the screening. Jed Levine, Vice President of Programs and Services at the New York City Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, will provide closing remarks.

Friday, April 20 –  6:30 p.m.  – $20  Buy Now!

Music Therapist Alejandro Berti engages with Dr. Ottavio Arancio, Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology in Columbia University’s Neuroscience Department, after the screening.

Saturday, April 21 –  11:30 a.m.  -$20  Buy Now!

Dementia Care Trainer Nancy Hendley engages with Dr. Concetta Tomaino after the screening.

Saturday, April 21 –  2:30 p.m.   – $20  Buy Now!

Dementia Care Trainer Lauren Volkmer engages with Dr. Concetta Tomaino after the screening.

Saturday, April 21 –  5:30 p.m.  – $20  Buy Now!

Alzheimer’s caregiver Rachael Bachleda engages with Dr. Peter Davies, Chair in Alzheimer’s Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine after the screening.

Alzheimer’s disease is terrifying because one loses one’s memory.  5.6 million people in the U.S. are struggling with dementia and memory loss and 10 million more people are connected to them. There is no known cure and the numbers of sufferers is on the rise.  ALIVE INSIDE follows Dan Cohen, a social worker who decides on a whim to bring iPods to a nursing home.  What Dan Cohen discovers by accident, and scientists have been studying for years, is that a person suffering from memory loss can seem to “awaken” when given music they have an emotional attachment to.  As Oliver Sacks explains, ‘Music imprints itself on the brain deeper than any other human experience.  Music evokes emotion and emotion can bring with it memory.”

The film is witness to this reawakening of ‘lost’ patients.  The effect on the patient, the family, the caregiver is both touching and inspiring.   The introduction of personalized music into patient’s lives seems to be able to open new vistas of experience, especially those with the least ability to interact.  The aim of this film is to encourage widespread adoption of personalized music programs in nursing homes.  The reward is enormous and the cost low.

A Message from the Filmmaker

When I saw what Dan was doing, bringing personal music to people who were lost, I was so moved I decided to make this film.  I spent over a year working on it and, it has been a mind-blowing odyssey.  It took me into the worlds most of us actually hide from- the worlds of aging and institutional long term care.

Filming personal music effecting Elders in nursing homes deeply effected me.  It changed the way I think about my own relationship to music and our shared human life cycle.  It changed my understanding of the brain and what it means to be human.  It also opened me to great sadness and great joy.   I saw the saddest thing in the world; another person who’s spark has gone out and conversely, the greatest joy- witnessing human awakening.

No project I have ever worked on has changed me as much as this story.  It is my hope that this film awakens people’s hearts and helps make it possible to bring music to those in nursing homes, people who don’t even know how deeply they need music’s gifts.

Music has great lessons to teach us about what it means to be human;  I learned this from the sweet and vulnerable souls I met making this film. – Michael Rossato-Bennet *****


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