Alive Inside is a documentary about the power of music, and how it connects people with who they are and who they have been. Dan Cohen, the founder of the nonprofit organization Music & Memory, uses music to help dementia patients recover lost memories; “to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it.” Here is the trailer for that documentary:
The documentary came out last fall, and the trailer has already made the rounds on the blogosphere; from what’s written on the website, it sounds like they are still booking showings, but a few weeks ago I stumbled across a link to a YouTube video of the entire documentary. The one I watched has since been pulled down, but others are likely to crop up and can be found easily enough.
I had seen the trailer before, and watching the documentary reminded me of the question that came to mind after seeing the trailer; what if we had done this for Mom in the years before Alzheimer’s disease robbed her of her self? Alzheimer’s and the accompanying dementia are terrible things, but what if listening to some Tommy Dorsey or Bing Crosby or Glenn Miller might have allowed her to maintain her cognitive abilities just a bit longer? It would’ve been worth a shot. It might have kept Mom’s mind together long enough to give my kids the chance to get to know her a bit. The disease would’ve still ravaged her body, but I would give about anything to have been able to give her a sound mind through all of that or even some of it. Mom loved music from the WWII era, and I’m sure she would’ve responded just as the people in this documentary did.
The second thing that watching this documentary got me to thinking about is how I might help myself ahead of time if I end up going down the dementia road later on. I don’t wish for it, but considering that it’s what took Mom and Uncle Bud, it’s not outside the realm of possibility. If I do, I’d like people to know the music that moves me. From the documentary it looks like they picked the music that fit the generation of the patients best, but what if there was a song in the playlist they loathed? If those people are anything like me, there are certain songs that are more meaningful than others, and it only takes a few notes from the melody to bring memories flooding back.
To that end, maybe somewhat selfishly, I’m going to start a new thing here on my blog; when I hear a song that means something to me, I’ll post a little something about the song and what it does for me. With a little planning, the list that grows from this idea will stick around long enough to be of some help to my family if I ever end up in memory care. And if the list outlives me, it’ll provide some fodder for the people planning my funeral.
The rules I impose on myself will be simple; 50 words or less, no links needed, but ok if included, and one song per post, mainly to keep things simple so that I can do it quickly from my phone if the computer isn’t in front of me. I’ve added a new category for the list — Memory Music, under Favorite Things — so keep an eye, or ear, open for the first volley.