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Film Demonstrates How Music Enlivens Elderly with Dementia

Joe, a nursing home patient, begins to sing when he hears his favor music. Joe is featured in the film "Alive Inside." Photo by Michael Rossato-Bennett.

An excerpt from the documentary “Alive Inside” has gone viral on the Internet, attracting more than 5 million views on Youtube since it was posted on April 7.

In the excerpt an elderly, wheelchair-bound man in a nursing home who rarely interacted with others becomes animated when he hears his favorite music from the 40s and 50s on an iPod.

He starts bopping around in his wheelchair, becomes aware of people around him, and answers questions about the music and his youth.

According to this article and audio clip on NPR, the brainchild behind this music program for people with dementia and Alzheimers disease is social worker Dan Cohen.

Cohen talked to NPR about the man in the wheelchair and how his program works.

“He is able to actually answer questions and speak about his youth, and this is sort of the magic of music that’s familiar for those with dementia,” he said. “Even though Alzheimer’s and various forms of dementia will ravage many parts of the brain, long-term memory of music from when one was young remains very often. So if you tap that, you really get that kind of awakening response. It’s pretty exciting to see.”

Q: plans to talk soon with the makers of the documentary “Inside Alive.” Are there questions you want us to pass on?

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  1. Hi, I would like to contact Dan Cohen, LCSW in NY or CA about this dementia and music project.

    Kaiser 1-323-298-3101


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