A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a viewing of Alive Inside. I bawled. I freely admit the fact. I sat in the darkened theater and cried nearly the entire way through this documentary.
If you are not familiar with this film, you should do some research. It documents a personalized music program for people suffering from all sorts of medical problems, including dementia and Alzheimer’s.
I saw this film from two different perspectives, and I think that is why it hit me so hard. First, I am a musician. I know the power of music in my life and I know the power of music that I see in the lives of others. I know the research that has been done on learning to play musical instruments and to study music, mainly in children. It is powerful. It is amazing. I also work with the elderly. I spend 90% of my time at my “day job” with people suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease and various other forms of dementia. It is heartbreaking. I have been doing music with them in different forms for quite some time. I have seen one person go from not being able to communicate to being able to tell the staff what he wants or needs. I have seen tears in the eyes of a 90-year-old woman as we sang her husband’s favorite song. I have seen a group of individuals come together to form a family because of a music group.
I recently received the go-ahead to start my take on this personalized music program. I have seen results in the short time and that has solidified my belief in the power of music at any stage of life.
Look around you. How many people have earbuds stuck in their ears? How often do you have music playing in your life? I am guessing that the answer to both of those questions is all the time. If music has the power to calm you, excite you, comfort you, or just make you happy, why wouldn’t it have the same impact on the elderly?
If you have a chance to participate in a music program at a nursing home, do it! Go perform for them, take your musical gifts room to room, donate an iPod/MP3 player to a participating program, or donate some iTunes gift cards. Anything you can give would be appreciated by any program.
You have the power to impact others. You have the power to make a difference. What is stopping you?