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Alzheimer’s Film Plays The Sundance Film Festival

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A week or so ago I came across a news story that a film about dementia was being shown at the Sundance Film Festival.  I did some digging, found the Music & Memory Website, read about what they were doing and got really excited so I reached out to Dan Cohen and asked for an interview. My first inclination was to jump right into telling you about what he is doing, but that would be wrong.  You need to watch the video clip below.  They will amaze and astound you.  They will inspire you. This video from the movie is about six minutes long.  It starts out a little slow but when you get to about 2 minutes into it,  you will not want to end.

What it’s All About

Music & Memory is a not-for-profit that is dedicated to bringing the power of music to dementia sufferers.  At the heart of what Dan and his organization are doing is providing individuals suffering from dementia with ipods that contain a musical playlist that is created for each individual. The Music & Memory program is being used in more than 425 locations and includes skilled nursing, assisted living, hospitals, hospice, home care and adult day care.

The Impact

Dan listed three huge impacts the Music & Memory program is having on participants and on the senior living communities using the program. 1.  Reduction of antipsychotic medication -  They are consistently seeing senior communities being able to reduce the number of residents who are being giving antipsychotic medications by at least 50%. 2.  Improvement in cognition by as much as 50% -  This for me was the most remarkable of the three.  Imagine for a moment a drug that increased cognition by 50% in dementia sufferers.  It would be a smash hit.  The longer video above is a great demonstration of this in action. Not only is it remarkable for the individuals with dementia it becomes a cathartic tool that actually gives these loved ones back to their families. 3.Residents Become More Social -  This seems counter intuitive because we know putting an ipod headset on a teenager instantly turns them into antisocial zombie.  But what happens is that music brings to the surface long lost memories that give families, friends and volunteers something to talk about. . .  a powerful way to connect. Particularly compelling is that this program has been in use for as long as 7 years at some sites and is still going strong.

Don’t Try This On Your Own

Well ok . . . you can try this on your own, but what Dan has found is that communities try it and get stuck because ipods get lost or stolen, play lists never get fine-tuned and there are important issues like copyright laws that prevent you from legally making copy after copy of commercial music.  Dan charges a one-time fee to help you get started. Still worried about the cost.  He has found this program resonates extremely well with scout troops, service clubs and church groups to fund his training and purchase or solicit donations of ipods. Here is the Music & Memory Website Steve Moran


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