A Story of Music and Memory

How the magic of music proves therapeutic
9:12 | 08/14/14

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Transcript for A Story of Music and Memory
Yeah. When I first met him and his very isolated room and he's always sit on the unit when his hit like this. Daily -- people. -- -- -- I introduced the music that. This isn't -- accidentally sent. And and. That is a clip from alive inside it is an award winning documentary film showing just how music can dramatically change the lives. Of some dementia patients and today in the studio of the creative forces behind alive -- -- joining us today. Dan Cohen social worker founder of the music in memory foundation here along with filmmaker Michael -- Bennett guys thank you so much for stopping by today. But -- wanna get to you in a minute about -- documentary that Dan start just a little bit explain the premise behind this. The idea is that with -- -- -- disease even -- you're short term memory is degraded. -- long term memories especially those associated with music from -- -- music -- personally meaningful. That's connected resides in the brain with your memories from back -- so when you hear a song when you're young that you -- That'll awaken those memories and helped me you will no longer be slumping -- you may be just more engaged in social with you and liven yourself and -- connect with your own. Sense of self and who you want to hold on to that so how much work has been done in the scientific community about. About be able to -- tap into those memories of the long term. V and music -- those kind of experience so. Music therapists have been around for decades and experts on how to leverage music and they know this in the researches there -- -- -- a which is leveraging this to get out -- Where did you stumble upon us and how would you stumbled on Selma social order by. Trade and but it but it my a career and technology companies and so in 2006 on the radio -- -- -- like about iPods are everywhere but well. The kids all have a lot of us adults. But in nursing home and if I'm ever nursing home might -- have access to my favorite sixties music. And so I didn't Internet search on iPods and nursing homes and even though there are 161000 nursing homes in the US I couldn't find one that was using iPods so I called up facility a nursing home near -- -- in my home. And I said in a music's already you're number one activity because we see if there's any added value to totally personalize. Music that was an instant it -- I think. I think that's the that's kind of the crux of this having seen this documentary is that. It's not simply plain. Any music -- music that holds up. Particular value to some of these patients right that's correct it's not just -- -- 83 given the -- you know so if any of your view is -- think about their favorite genre music and have somebody else pick out specific songs. They really fail at picking out songs that they really loved most of the time so get your reaction when you first rate to see this kind of thing. In light bulb go off well that the -- -- exactly the right description that people light up people who have just been for months and years maybe non responsive. And it's amazing to watch. Michael how did you get involved in this because as I've seen this documentary it is. It tear jerking -- he is very thought provoking because it obviously. And it -- so many questions of how do we tap into these patients that are still with us but might not have the cognitive ability to real to relate. -- I like to call this the only good news film ever made about dementia and alzheimer's. Because that's exactly what happened to me I mean -- and brought -- into this these nursing homes and I was expecting nothing. Steve I walked through -- just rows and rows of people in the wheelchairs kind of like this. And yet when we put the music -- -- progress through different when we when we put the music on them. They just came to light think they blossomed. And I felt that blossoming inside of myself just as anyone feels like when someone you love is like lost and you can't touch them. And it certainly -- the week up where they look at you and it's it's such an emotional experience it -- to touch again person you love and who's been sort of taken away from him. And when I felt that once I just knew that this was a gift that we had the possibility of giving. To the whole world like there are so many people in this condition that we forgot about their home there -- nursing homes. And just the idea that there's this simple -- this simple intervention. That came a week in parts of the mind that -- that most of us myself included when we started this. You you know I don't think this is alive don't think is there so. This is of this is a beautiful story and it's not depressing and you will cry. But those tears -- are -- her tears are tears of of seeing another human awakening. And it's that's why I think this is a beautiful gift to withstand is doing and you know that the trajectory of this film are gonna change things for people who really -- You have really captured in such a way where you do see that revelation happening Natalie between the caretakers but obviously also with the patients and with their families as well. That is part of the story and that is the very raw emotional part but -- -- It seems as if this is such an amazing ability to be able to connect -- sort of -- Ignite a fire within some of these patients why -- don't we have iPods and I -- -- in this kind of music in every nursing home -- care facility in the country. Well that struggle to make this -- standard of care so that -- there is universal access everybody's very simply has access to their favorite music music that's meaningful for the music that will change the quality of their day. It. What would you -- to get -- any kind of problems as far as like. The the -- tragedy in nursing homes -- care facilities to understand this the power and the significance of the music. I think what people see this for themselves as you know the movies so communicate so well the impact of this that people cancer and now I mean they get it -- I think we're up against more. Our own world we are all our own experts on music so when I would tell my friends how we should he was happening oh how nice standard video people -- Conan and -- -- -- -- what I'm seeing here is extraordinary -- really just sort of breaking through and what people see of themselves they will make it. It's -- to belittle it then about the actual response because yes we see them light up we see their faces. Smile we see the the the excitement that I have from hearing a song -- May have been created from an experienced 405060. Years ago. But what is happening to the interaction to the caretaker to the family member that they are now working with and that moment probably the biggest unexpected outcome for me. Was that you know -- started people said and you're -- isolate people more than -- and headphones on the Lehman in the corner. And when we roll this out the feedback with no nobody was more isolated that we could help but what were people more social. -- you've got to hear this music of this reminds me when I'm has been here about -- -- remember the Andrews sisters people would never communicated so it's kicking off. Interaction socialization people are more cooperative engaged attentive. And so now when family members visited sort of transformed the visit what's so hard to visit someone's got alzheimer's and nursing home. But if there are more engaging in -- reminiscing stories remembering in the -- remember the -- child's name but has been. It's it's. Massive benefit in terms of family relationships do we know what studies at this point Americas where we -- on the scientific research of being able to link -- between the long term and the short term. Is there any potential benefit from this. Hitting in that area so this is not a cure for the disease but there is research around the fact that if you do this regularly over ten months three hours a week. The -- mission will improve 50%. Could you really kicking off the carrier that cost the city of the brain -- taking advantage. And so -- the worst downside is that -- it really is no downside except that might not work it doesn't work with everybody but it -- with most people. So obviously with family and friends are variation as to what the scientific community -- -- -- action. What I mean -- this -- there's a lot of research going on right now. And has been going on for the last sixty years. Basically. What with the science is is that that the emotional system and -- can -- system of the of the body does not the case not touch. I mean is touch but it indicates much less than other parts of the brain so if you can find a way to excite that part of the beam. Then you get this sort of functionality that kind of -- And that's that's what the sciences and. And you have now started a foundation called music in memory dot ordered some music -- memory is as a nonprofit. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- Trainers -- and how to implement this. So it's music and -- dot org is the web site people can. I go there and learn more about this and how to get involved -- -- and -- began to and then we'll we'll put them in nursing. A prepaid don't label they can to stop on -- -- Dan Michael is called alive inside Gaza -- thanks so much for stopping by in an eye opening documentary thank you. And it.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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