24 Jun 2014

Alive Inside - Dan Cohen's music-based breakthrough for dementia

From Nine To Noon, 9:30 am on 24 June 2014

A US programme is having remarkable results by connecting elderly dementia and alzheimers sufferers with the music of their past.

ALIVE INSIDE Photo Courtesy of BOND
Image courtesy of Bond 360.

Social worker Dan Cohen is the founder of the Music and Memory programme which involves playing music to the patients on iPods.

Cohen says the music opens dormant pathways in the brains of patients, and allows caregivers and families to connect with people who have in some cases been non-responsive for years.

Mr Cohen and his team train staff in elder care homes to set up personalised music playlists on ipods. He says the music taps deep memories that have escaped the disease – and brings dementia patients back to life.

His work is the subject of the award-winning documentary Alive Inside. The film shows how the music has transformed the lives of some patients, people who have been bedridden and mute, suddenly smiling, singing and even dancing when they hear the music of their past.

Dan Cohen is urging health officials here to see the documentary and consider implementing the programme in New Zealand.

Kathryn Ryan talks to Dan Cohen