An upcoming documentary demonstrates how beloved music played for an Alzheimer’s patient can bring them “back to life,” so to speak. A recent YouTube video has gotten millions of hits, showing the effects music has on a patient named Henry. Normally nonverbal, he becomes very animated and verbal when he listens to his favorite music on an iPod. Continue reading below, and click through the link to watch the video clip. To learn more about how we help Alzheimer’s patients at home in the California areas of Sacramento, Lodi and Stockton, visit us at All For You Home Care.
Millions watch as iPod music “lights up” man in nursing home
Songs from our past have amazing power to take us back years or decades. That is demonstrated dramatically in a clip from a new film that has gone viral in the past few days: It shows an elderly man named Henry Dreher who emerges from a near stupor to dance in his chair, sing with gusto and wax poetic — all thanks to an iPod loaded with the songs of Cab Calloway, Bing Crosby and other favorites from the nursing home resident’s youth.
The documentary is called Alive Inside and it was made to promote a charity called Music & Memory. The non-profit group donates iPods to nursing homes and trains staff and family members to personalize them for people with dementia and other conditions. The film will have a formal premiere Wednesday at the Rubin Museum in New York.
But as of tonight, more than 3.3 million people have viewed two versions of the clip on YouTube — and many clearly find it moving. “Beautiful, uplifting, moving, inspiring. The power of Music is immense. Alzheimer’s hit my father. My mother’s Love plus Music added many years to his life. When he could hardly speak, he still harmonised joyfully,” one viewer wrote.
In the film, Dreher’s responses are observed by neurologist and author Oliver Sacks, whose writings on Parkinson’s disease inspired the film Awakenings. At first Dreher, who has dementia, is “inert, maybe depressed, unresponsive and almost unalive,” Sacks says. “Then he is given an iPod with his favorite music and he lights up.”
Someone asks Dreher, 94, what music means to him: “It gives me the feeling of love, romance,” he says. “I feel the band of love and dreams.” Dreher also delivers a soulful version of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” and does some pretty amazing Calloway-style scat talking. This is from a man who usually struggles to answer ‘yes’ and ‘no’ questions, Sacks says.
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