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Alive Inside: The Story of Music and Memory.


A few days ago, I watched a documentary on Netflix titled ‘Alive Inside: The Story of Music and Memory.’ It was about a social worker that used music to evoke the memories of Alzheimer’s patients. It was one of the most astounding things I’ve ever seen.

These patients were lifeless, unresponsive; they needed help for the most basic human things. They couldn’t remember how to write, the faces of their children, they couldn’t even recognise photographs of themselves. However upon listening to music from their past, it restored their life. 

They remembered, they danced, they sang, they were alive. 

It was magic, it brought them back; the rhythm restored them. They experienced joy, they felt love. They described their childhood, they recalled moments of significance. A woman that had been unable to stand without her walker burst into a dance and moved around without any support. It demonstrated the impact of music and the way it is able to reach and penetrate the deepest part of us. It evokes things beneath the surface and was responsible for helping them fall back in touch with the people that they had once been, if even for a moment.

A doctor explained that he had never witnessed anything like this. Medication had not been able to bring their memories back; it had not allowed them to remember before. He said that they were quick to prescribe medication because it was an easy solution, it was also encouraged because there is money within the pharmaceutical industry. However, medication is used to numb the pain, and although it may act as a temporary fix, the underlying wound is still present. Medication doesn’t fix the problem; it just makes us blind to it. Maybe they are doing it all wrong. Maybe the answer is therapy. Maybe the answer is in music.

The documentary demonstrated the way that a man had managed to keep his wife out of a nursing home by retaining her memory through music. It reiterated the fact that music is purposeful and can be used as a form of therapy and healing. Music was enough to make her remember and it made me realise that our healing is reliant on the facets that make us feel the closest to ourselves.

It also discussed the way that the elderly are perceived in our current society. As children, we are taught by our elders. They gather us and tell us stories of their childhood; they share their wisdom and truths. This means of storytelling goes on to form the foundation of our knowledge. However, with the era of the internet, their knowledge is no longer necessary for survival and thus society does not have a place for the elderly. It’s incredibly sad because they have given their whole lives to the universe, they are a part of our history. They are the reason for our existence and without them, we wouldn't be ourselves. They are the reason for our progression, so do we not owe them our lives?

We're taught that adulthood is the pinnacle of our existence and elder people are just broken down versions of what they used to be.

You can watch the trailer here and the full documentary is available on Netflix. I wholeheartedly recommend watching it.
(Image Source: here)

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