The award-winning documentary “Alive Inside” explores how music touches and awakens people with dementia and other disorders, reconnecting their sense of self. With contributions from neurologist and author Oliver Sacks and musician Bobby McFerrin, the film takes viewers along on social worker Dan Cohen’s quest to bring music to the 16,000 nursing homes and assisted-living facilities across the United States (see July 2014 news story).
The documentary's highlights include moving scenes of people awakened by music after long periods of not speaking, seemingly liberated from the anxiety, confusion, and isolation that accompanies dementia.
Cohen founded the nonprofit Music and Memory, which creates personalized musical play lists for people isolated in care facilities. The film documents Cohen's triumphs and struggles as he navigates a fractured health-care system that relies on drugs to manage the physical symptoms of aging, but largely overlooks the needs of the human spirit.