I cannot remember exactly how social worker Dan Cohen came across his amazing discovery but what we can see from this heart-warming documentary about him putting it in to practice is the undisguised joy from all the people who are reaping from his ‘invention’. Cohen established that elderly hospitalized patients numbed the cruel ravages of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia literally come alive listening to their favorite music. It is quite miraculous and remarkable and such a joyous sight.
In this movie from newbie director Michael Rossato-Bennett we see a few of the people that Cohen has managed to help so far simply by somehow finding out which particular music they like and uploading onto their own personal ipod. There is Henry who rarely acknowledged anyone now swaying to the Cab Calloway and belting out ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’. With inert John an extremely morose Army Vet it was the music of the Andrews Sisters that had him tapping his feet, and for Denise a bipolar schizophrenic the sound of Schubert has her discarding the walking frame she has been attached too for years and literally dancing.
The eminent neurologist Oliver Sacks explaining about some of the scientific specifics of memory loss points out that musical memories generally escape even the most severe cases of Alzheimer’s. This is backed up with testimony from scientists, nursing home workers and activists about the power of music to awaken those feelings and memories from the past. But the best proof, and the highlight of this very moving documentary, are the patients whose very restricted lives are transformed with Cohen’s help.
The snag is that although each Ipod may cost just $40 there is no provision in medical research or funding to finance them even though they are doing each of the fortunate recipients a power of good that they simply do not get from their expensive regimes of drugs. Since 2006 Cohen’s non-profit organization Music & Memory have been developing their goal to be able to offer these personalized MP3 to as many Care Facilities as they can raise Funds for. So far thanks to very generous private donors and Foundations their work has spread but with some 16000 Nursing Homes in the US alone with over 5 million people with dementia they still have a long way to go.
Not a perfect documentary technically but the subject matter is powerful enough for you to overlook its shortcomings. And if you are as moved as most people who watch this (it won another Audience Favorite Award this week at the Provincetown Film Festival) then you can make a contribution too via https://musicandmemory.org/donate-now/.
Posted by queerguru at 22:49
Labels: 2014, documentary, music, Sundance