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Treating Dementia with Music

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The new documentary "Alive Inside" chronicles the work of social worker Dan Cohen - whose organization, Music & Memory, aims to bring personalized digital music into the lives of the elderly and infirm. Joining us to discuss the role that music can play in elder care - particularly in the lives of dementia patients - is Dan Cohen, as well as Ann Wyatt, Residential Care Policy & Strategy Consultant for the Alzheimer's Association. 

"Alive Inside" by filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett will be screened at the Rubin Museum of Art this weekend - click here for more information. 


A clip from the film, featuring Brooklyn dementia patient "Henry" listening to the music of his youth, recently went viral on the web and has now been viewed more than 5 million times. Watch it below. 


Dan Cohen and Ann Wyatt

Comments [9]

Soledad from Santiago

It's true. Music can heal! My grandmother, when she was 93, was thrilled when she listened to my sister playing the piano for her. It was magical because she suffered from dementia at the time...

Apr. 24 2012 04:55 PM
Mercedes Bern-Klug from Iowa City

Social worker, Dan Cohen, thank YOU so much for sharing this idea-- what a great way to connect residents with the community and to tap into a hidden strength that can bring meaning to our lives...even in advanced old age and in the throes of dementia.

Apr. 23 2012 11:24 AM
Mary Crescenzo from Peekskill

Check out the social drama, Planet A (formerly entitled, Piece of Mind) about Alzheimer's that illustrates, in part, how music is so effective with patients. One problem with getting music and the arts (not busy work) into nursing homes is lack of funding and the lack of priority for the importance of the arts in treatment. I have used dance/movement and singing (as well as watercolor work) with patients and the response is remarkable.

Apr. 19 2012 03:03 PM
andy from manhattan

i am curious why it is only music from our youth that makes the brain pop back into groove. or is that the only direction this research has pointed so far?

Apr. 19 2012 02:58 PM
Anina Karmen from nyu

How can I/we volunteer?
PLEASE let me know?
I've played guitar in dementia units in nursing ;homes....but THIS is DIFFERENT!!!!!!!
Of *course* it matters if they knew & LOVED the music.


Apr. 19 2012 02:57 PM
Er-nay from UWS

How difficult was it to get the music rights to use those songs in the film?

Apr. 19 2012 02:56 PM
Eric from NYC

At our Sedar this year, my Grandma didn't know what was going on, except for when we all sang "Diaynu"

Apr. 19 2012 02:55 PM

(I'm actually asking for an elderly family member who grew up in a non-Western country and whose childhood music isn't at all easily available on recordings....)

Apr. 19 2012 02:50 PM

Is this therapy effective for dementia/Alzheimer's patients who were never passionate music-lovers but if you just play music they heard from their childhood?

Apr. 19 2012 02:46 PM

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