Memory and the Music Connector

Loss of memory

Loss of memory, as we age, causes fear, anxiety and confusion but in the "Alive Inside" documentary we see that music can awaken tender memories of a first kiss, when we fell in love, the birth of our children; a life that typically is lost forever. It touches a part of the brain that Alzheimer's and dementia cannot erase and stimulates thought for someone who would otherwise be unreachable.,

Before the music, Beatrice couldn't remember anything about her youth. After listening to Louie Armstrong, Dan Cohen a Social Worker and primary contributor to the documentary couldn't stop her from talking. She had stories to share, memories that she lost.

Henry was an elegant, handsome man with music always in his life. But for the last ten years he declined to the point where he only gave "yes or "no" answers with his head always down. Dan brought him an IPod and headphones with his favorite gospel and Cab Calloway songs.When theheadphones were taken off Dan asked him questions about his youth and what memories the songs brought back for him. Henry became animated. His face lit up like a Christmas tree speaking in full sentences about his childhood, going to dances, riding his bike as a child and making money. He found his identity for a while. "I feel a band of love, of dreams. God gave me this gift." Henry said.

Medications do not touch the heart and soul of a patient with memory loss like music does. When you add familiar music into the mix it allows us to communicate with them. They open up to a world where they find their voice. There is no pill that can do that.

I learned a valuable tool from this movie. For people with dementia or Alzheimer's music connects them to who they were; it's a backdoor into their mind. It can be a part of unlocking that human connection of communication that once was closed.

If you are a caregiver of a person with memory loss, ask them what their favorite songs are and play them. Your client will take you into their lives. Watch their faces light up. Listen to their stories and begin a dialog that connects you to them. If they start to cry it is only tears of joy.

For the trailer search for Alive Inside Official Trailer 1 (2014) - Alzheimer's Documentary HD.

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