Alive Inside

In 2014, social worker Dan Cohen, through his nonprofit organization Music for Memory, helped dementia patients awaken and reconnect to memories of a time long past. Cohen advocates the use of music to overcome isolation, depression, and withdrawal, often common symptoms of dementia. “Music is freedom” one patient stated after listening to the songs of his youth; others smiled, laughed, clapped, and danced in their seats. The documentary film “Alive Inside” follows Cohen’s efforts to supply institutionalized adults with iPod, earphones, and a playlist of favorite tunes. (It can be viewed on Netflix or purchased on Amazon).

Music affects and is processed in many different areas of the brain. Moderate noise level (peaceful music) can increase creativity. Music training is associated with improved motor and reasoning skills, vocabulary and nonverbal reasoning skills. Classical music can improve visual attention. Music helps us exercise by overriding signals of fatigue in the brain. Music choices have been linked to personality traits. In one study five traits, including openness to experience, extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and emotional stability were tested. Results:  Jazz and Classical fans have high self-esteem, are creative and at ease; Opera fans have high self-esteem, are creative and gentle; Dance fans are creative and outgoing; Rock fans have low self-esteem, are creative, not outgoing, hardworking, gentle or at ease;  Country fans are hardworking and outgoing; and Soul and Blues fans seem to possess all five personality traits.

Contrary to popular belief music IS a dangerous distraction while driving!

~Tamara Nixon, BS, CHES

Music and Dementia