Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory

A documentary about the power of music

What is your favorite song? It is a simple question: a question that you have probably asked and answered at least once in your life. But this question can have much more of an impact than anyone could imagine.

The documentary “Alive Inside”, directed and produced by Michael Rossato-Bennett, follows social worker Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music and Memory, as he fights against the broken healthcare system to demonstrate music’s ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those who suffer from it.

Roughly 5 million people in America suffer from dementia while 10 million people in America spend time caring for those who do. Every 67 seconds someone in the United States is diagnosed with the disease. As these numbers grow along with the number of senior citizens in general, senior care providers have created an almost ritualistic form of care involving pills and medications.

Doctors see the body as a very complicated mechanism that they have learned to control using these medications. Seniors are regularly prescribed medications for things such as blood pressure, depression, and respiratory difficulties. However, no one has attempted to touch the heart and soul of these patients.

This is where music comes into play. The documentary shows patients being re-exposed to their favorite music from a different time in their lives with incredible results. Music awakens people to what they are and can be! It activates more regions of the brain than any other medium. Music is recorded in the brain in both motion and emotion. Music is so effective because this is the last region of the brain affected by Alzheimer’s and Dementia. This personalized music has the potential to change millions of lives.

Since the documentary, personalized music has been distributed throughout 650 nursing homes. It is our job to make sure that this is only the beginning. There are countless ways that you can help! Donate an iPod, volunteer at a local music and memory program, and even set up a playlist for an elder that you know.

Check out the 'Alive Inside' trailer at   or watch the full documentary, available on Netflix.