Alive Inside – The story of Music & Memory

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Alive Inside official movie poster

ALIVE INSIDE, winner of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival’s US Documentary Audience award, chronicles the experiences of nursing home residents suffering from dementia who have been revived by listening to personalized music playlists. The film brings to life the discovery of Dan Cohen’s Music & Memory program that music, not medicine, can improve the condition of withdrawn and isolated residents.

Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett originally planned to followed Dan Cohen for a single day but found himself crafting a story of music and memory around Cohen's objective to bring personalized music to individuals suffering from dementia. He filmed Cohen for three years.

The Ohio movie premiere of ALIVE INSIDE will take place on Thursday, Sept. 4 at Drexel Theatre in Columbus.  Following the 7pm screening, the Drexel Theatre will hold an audience talk-back to discuss the effects of music in the treatment of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The discussion panel will include:

  • Bonnie K. Burman, Sc.D., Director, Ohio Department of Aging
  • Peter J. Whitehouse, MD, PhD, Professor of Neurology at the University of Toronto
  • Dan Cohen, MSW, Founder and Executive Director of Music & Memory
  • Salli Bollin, MSW, Executive Director of the Alzheimer’s Association, Northwest Ohio Chapter

If you would like to attend the event, tickets are $10 ($8 for Drexel members, students, and seniors 60+) and include admission to the film and the post-screening event. Tickets can be purchased by phone at (614) 231-1050, at, or at the Drexel Theatre box office (2254 E. Main St.) in advance or the night of the event.

Music & Memory Background:

Executive Director Dan Cohen founded MUSIC & MEMORY℠ with a simple idea: Someday, if he ended up in a nursing home, he wanted to be able to listen to his favorite ‘60s music. Why not bring iPods into nursing homes to provide personalized music for residents?

MUSIC & MEMORY℠ is a non-profit organization that brings personalized music into the lives of the elderly or infirm through digital music technology, vastly improving quality of life.

The program trains nursing home staff, elder care professionals and family caregivers how to create and provide personalized music playlists via iPods and other digital music players to enable those struggling with Alzheimer’s, dementia and other cognitive and physical challenges to reconnect with the world through music-triggered memories.

By providing access and education, and by creating a network of MUSIC & MEMORY℠ Certified elder care facilities, MUSIC & MEMORY℠ aims to make this form of personalized therapeutic music a standard of care throughout the health care industry. 

When Dan hatched his idea in 2006, he discovered that none of the 16,000 nursing homes in the U.S. used iPods for their residents. Drawing on his background in leveraging technology to benefit people who would otherwise have no access, he volunteered at a local nursing home in Greater New York, creating personalized playlists for residents. The program was a hit with residents, staff and families, and became the prototype for a bigger effort.

Read more about MUSIC & MEMORY℠.