Alive Inside: Music Brings Back Memories and Dignity

Music&Memory3

Note: If after reading this post you are interested in seeing the movie, please check out my Alive Inside movie review.

I discovered Alive Inside, the Sundance award-winning documentary film that demonstrates the power that music can exercise over memory loss, a few months ago when my husband and I shared an amazing experience attending the Second Wind Tour. This nationwide  extravaganza that travelled over the country helped Dr. Bill Thomas to launch Second Wind, his new book about aging and the importance of living in deeper and more thoughtful ways, included a partial screening of Alive Inside (check out the trailer below), and I left the event in greater awe of music than ever before. That’s saying a lot because I’m a lifelong musician.

Alive Inside

Find a way to see the movie!

Alive Inside, Michael Rossato-Bennett’s documentary film, tells the story of a man’s determination to try a new kind of therapy with patients experiencing severe memory loss. Dan Cohen gives iPods personalized with music to people with severe memory impairment, and then watches how they listen and respond.The results, you see them right there on the screen, are astonishing.

The fragile people, mostly elders, listening to the music begin to react, interact, and even talk about experiences that the music reawakens. They associate the music with memories that often come rushing back and often with each individual’s ability to talk about the memories. Cohen pursues his projects against considerable odds — namely a healthcare system that treats aging as a medical problem rather than a time of life. Continue reading

Innovation During the Coming Epidemic of Memory Impairment

MGH Russell Museum 3

The Museum of Medical History and Innovation in Boston

I just finished reading How to Defeat Alzheimer’s, a May 28, 2013 article in the Los Angeles Times. The article, by David Shubert, PhD, of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, reminds readers of the vast number of boomers who will experience memory impairments (14 million in 2050) at the end of their lives, requiring extensive medical and caregiving support. No cure is in sight, not even that many hopeful signs for possible cure, and research is not keeping up. Dr. Shubert offers some “out-of-the-box” ideas to move along the study of dementia diseases.

As a member of the sandwich generation — I have a married adult daughter and aging parents — I am aware of the challenges that Alzheimer’s and dementia may present for my parents, for my generation, including me, and for young adults who will likely observe a fair number of their relatives passing through various stages of brain impairment. Yet, with so many people moving inexorably toward dementia illnesses, the situation also offers an opportunity for researchers to learn more than ever before and get answers to at least a few of the unanswered questions. The boomer generation may become a sentinel cohort that helps medical researchers find some answers to Alzheimer’s. Continue reading

Alzheimer’s and Dementia Resource-National Institute on Aging

Click to download the  book as a PDF or order a print copy.

Click to download the book as a PDF or order a print copy.

Check Out this Easy-to-Use Guide

from the National Institute on Aging (NIA)

If one of your family members or a friend receives a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, this book, Caring for a Person with Alzheimer’s Disease, offers an enormous amount of information and support. It’s organized well, overs a range of resources, and even uses an easy-to-read typeface.

From the NIA Website

This comprehensive, 104-page handbook offers easy-to-understand information and advice for at-home caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease. It addresses all aspects of care, from bathing and eating to visiting the doctor and getting respite care. And it’s filled with resources.

Examples of the Information Provided in Caring for a Person With Alzheimer’s

  • Learn more about caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s with advice on everything from memory issues to holidays to travel to coping strategies
  • Get more specifics about the medical facts.
  • Learn how to seek and find additional help for you and your family member.
  • Find out how to help a caregiver remain healthy and strong.
  • Explore a range of safety tips.
  • Get information about the progression of the disease and the last states of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s Drug Researcher Becomes a Patient – Loses Job

This short article over at Caring.com reminds us that Alzheimer’s is not just a disease for older and elderly adults. Moreover the story reminds us that our stereotypes and dysfunctional thinking, when it comes to people who are coping with serious diseases, can do much harm.

Paul Allen Donates Another $300 Mil to Brain Research

New York Times, March 22, 2012
By Benedict Carey

Visit the Allen Institute website.

It’s a good day for brain research.

Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen is giving millions more to the Allen Institute for Brain Science, which according to a New York Times article, opened as a center for brain  research in 2003.Reporter Benedict Carey notes that, “The institute will focus on counting and classifying the different types of neurons, illuminating the molecular machinery within the cells that can cause problems, and studying how the cells process information in networks, using as a model the visual system in mice.”

This contribution brings Allen’s total for the Seattle-based research organization to $500 million dollars. According to an Allen Institute’s press release that announces the new donation:
(Paul) Allen has charged the Institute with tackling some of the most fundamental and complex questions in brain science today. The answers to these questions are essential for achieving a complete understanding of how the brain works, what goes wrong in brain-related diseases and disorders, and how best to treat them. Continue reading

Maybe Some Good News About Fighting Alzheimer’s?

Short excerpt from
The Fiscal Times, March 14, 2012
I’ve added a few links to this excerpt. Click on the above link to read the entire article by Michael Hodin, Executive Director of The Global Coalition on Aging.
 
Dr. [Peter] Piot, who served as executive director of the United Nation’s UNAIDS organization and now serves at Imperial College in London, delivered an impassioned call to action before some 1500 scientists, patients, caregivers, advocate, and health officials who gathered from every corner of the globe. According to Piot, we need:
  • a global political movement to fund cures and preventions as the global aging phenomenon will give rise to unprecedented rates of Alzheimer’s
  •  to rally against Alzheimer’s exactly as we did with HIV/AIDS in order to make a difference.
In the last six years, nine countries have created national Alzheimer’s plans. In France, England, Australia, Wales, Scotland, The Netherlands, South Korea, Norway, and most recently the U.S., there are already government-based national plans.