After Netflix arrived in Australia, I decided to give it a run so I bit the bullet and subscribed last night. I don’t have a lot of spare mental stamina to start watching TV series. So last night, after flicking through the series and movies that didn’t catch my attention, I settled on Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory. The documentary follows the progress of Dan Cohen, from the nonprofit organisation – Music & Memory, who demonstrated the healing and restoration power of music. He went to nursing homes, visiting those wrecked by Alzheimer’s and dementia and simply put an iPod and a headset on them – and played their favourite music. The changes shown in the music are just awe-inspiring. Seeing non-responsive elderly men and women who then came alive and for moments afterwards able to converse and share their feelings – was just breathtaking and tear-inducing.
I can’t help thinking about my belated Dad after he had his stroke; when he lost the use of his right arm, it destroyed him and his pride. He withdrew and began his slow decline until he passed away in 2011. I wish we had known about the healing power of music and let him escape to his youth again and listen to the music that he grew up to. These are things that are covered in the documentary that made me quite teary at the end. It’s true that somehow western society (and increasingly so in the east as well) considers the older generation as a broken version of their former self, rather than a generation that has a lot to give. One of the things that will unlock them is through the amazing power of music.
The documentary, directed by Michael Rossato-Bennett goes beyond the exploration of music and its impact on the elderly, but also an expose on how badly we manage the standard of care towards those who we all should look up to and learn. If you love music, or if you have a member of your family who is locked in their own world through Alzheimer’s, dementia, or just the effects of their twilight years, you will love this documentary. A real gem!