Over 5 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia and many of them are left alone in nursing homes. I recently just watched a very touching documentary called, Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory. It’s about a social worker, Dan Cohen, whose purpose is to bring music into nursing homes to help residents with their Alzheimer’s and Dementia. He not only believes but proves that certain songs from a persons past can help to ease pain and awaken their memory.
I don’t want to go too into detail with the documentary because I wish for you to watch it but I have to say I was truly moved when I watched one of the residents, Henry, light up when he put those headphones on and started listening to his music. Henry suffers from Dementia and has been in a nursing home for over 10 years, his nurse said that he didn’t really talk much or respond to anything until he started listening to his music. Henry began singing along and I have to admit I couldn’t help but to smile and tear up at seeing so much joy and life being resuscitated back into him.
Another example in this documentary of how musical healing power surpasses where prescription medication falls short is the story of Norman and Nell. Norman has been caring for his wife Nell at home for over 10 years without the use of drugs. He is able to do so by keeping her constantly stimulated; she likes to “play piano” along to her favorite music. Without music she would have to be institutionalized.
I hope that one day all nursing homes acquire this music program in order to bring life back to where it has been forgotten.
Music Therapy. The best kind of Therapy.
(For those interested you can find the documentary on Netflix)