A memory is a photograph taken by the heart to make a special moment last forever.
It’s a beautiful thought isn’t it. We all have those photographs in our mind. We can go through the photo album that is our memory any time we want and look again at a certain moment in time. Unfortunately, we can’t always choose to only see the good memories but often the mind photos are ones we’d prefer to forget. Generally though, it’s one of life’s greatest gifts – to be able to relive the special moments by opening that album in our memory. But what happens when the photo album is locked away and can’t be retrieved? What happens when you can no longer remember?
That is what happens with people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia all the time. They are robbed of so many of their memories, long and short term. They lose themselves. I’ve seen people in nursing homes who have no light left in their eyes. They are alive but they aren’t living. It’s heartbreaking to see. Their loved ones often wait in hope there may be a few brief moments when the light comes back on again.
Who could forget Noah in The Notebook, who read to his love every day to try to bring her back if only for a few minutes, to spend some time with her. I’ve seen the movie so many times and I still cry my eyes out every time. A few years ago now, I wrote a blog on how music brought an elderly resident in a nursing home I worked in, back to life for the 3 minutes of a particular song. I was amazed to see the transformation that one song made to her and it is something I will never forget. We all have a soundtrack of our lives and it can take us to any part of our life at any time. It unlocks the brain.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading on this particular matter lately and am amazed at how little we know about unlocking our brain. I truly believe that music is one of the most powerful keys we have. It allows us to travel through time.
I watched a documentary the other day on just this topic. It’s called Alive Inside and it talks about one man’s efforts to bring music back into the lives of Alzheimer’s patients. I would recommend everyone watch this program. It is one of the most beautiful and inspiring things I’ve seen in a long time.
Throughout the documentary, we are introduced to people who are trapped in their bodies and minds. They are often sitting in nursing homes with no light left in their eyes. They don’t respond to anything around them. To watch the light come back on when they have a set of headphones put on their heads is nothing short of a miracle. They come to life again. They talk, they reminisce, they even dance. They are once again animated.
It was truly a joy to behold. It was instantaneous. The headphones went on and as you watch, you can see the light turning back on. I dare anyone to watch this documentary and not be overwhelmed by the beauty of the human spirit. This, in my opinion is one of the most important documentaries to have ever been made.
What’s more important is that this work needs to be supported and rolled out, not just across America, which is what he’s trying to do, but all around the world. His goal is to see every person in nursing homes or being cared for at home, be given an ipod or mp4 player and have it filled with the soundtrack of THEIR lives. The music that can reach right into the depths of my soul isn’t going to have the same effect on another person, so it does have to be individualised.
The side benefit of a program like this is that after one young person saw a clip on Henry, one of the patients, they shared it, it went viral and now many young people are volunteering to go into nursing homes and fill the iPods. What a fantastic side effect. While these kids are going into the nursing homes, there will be some form of interaction. It’s a great lesson in tolerance and understanding for both generations.
This work is so vital. Dan Cohen, the founder of Music and Memory is a man who is passionate about what he does. He is also frustrated at a system that will pay large amounts of money for drugs but won’t pay a small sum to try a different but effective alternative. The cost (as of the documentary) is around $40 per person. It’s not a lot of money to watch someone come back to life.
I would urge you all to watch the movie I’ve added on here. (sorry there are ads in it) If you don’t want to watch it on YouTube, find it on Netflix or anywhere else you can find it. It’s more than worthwhile.. it’s something that could change the life of hundreds of thousands of people in our world. It may one day change your world too.
I’d also suggest you get busy and write that soundtrack of your life. That way, if by chance you ever need it, those closest to you will be able to fill your ipod with the music that matters to you and maybe bring you back to them.
Happy listening… Livvy xx