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Could a $59 iPod help relieve Alzheimer's and dementia symptoms?

When most of us picture scientists working on Alzheimer’s breakthroughs, we imagine them in a high-tech room with lab coats. But an intriguing new film asks: could an iPod be part of the solution?

That’s the premise of Alive Inside, a documentary and discussion panel that will be presented at Wolfville’s Al Whittle Theatre on May 7th. The award-winning film – released in late 2014 – chronicles the astonishing experiences of individuals with Alzheimer’s and dementia who have been revitalized through the simple experience of listening to music. It reveals the uniquely human connection we find in music and how its healing power can triumph where prescription medication falls short.

Related: National Post: Music and memory - for dementia patients, iPod experiment may be a link back to their younger selves

The film follows Social Worker Dan Cohen, founder of the Music & Memory program: a non-profit, a non-profit organization that brings personalized music into the lives of the elderly and infirm. Cohen’s encounters with various Alzheimer’s and dementia sufferers are at times uplifting, sad, and even comical – but always intriguing.


Cohen’s program has expanded from three nursing homes to 500, in part with the help of private donations spurred by Alive Inside. Since its release, the US-state of Utah has plans to provide elders with personalized music, and Wisconsin is launching the first federally funded program to reduce the use of psychotropic drugs by introducing patients to personalized music.

Alive Inside will be presented by local health care businesses Careforce and Family 1st Medical along with the Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia. They say that over the past few years they’ve seen a significant increase in the number of families learning to cope with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and memory loss.

Related: Music & Memory Non-Profit Organization

“We really want to help these individuals and their families,” says Family 1st’s Kate Spurr. “There’s such a great need for support and so few resources in the community. We saw the film and thought we’d love to share it with everyone.”

The film will be presented on May 7th at 7:00pm at Wolfville’s Al Whittle Theatre. It will be followed by a discussion panel featuring Dr. Heather Price (Acadia University), Lara Robinson (the iPod Pharmacy program in Truro), and Wenda MacDonald (Alzheimer Society of Nova Scotia). Tickets are $5 and can be purchased in advance at www.careforce.ca/aliveinside or by phoning (902)-365-3155. Tickets are also available at Box of Delights Book Store in Wolfville and will be for sale at the door. For more information about the film, visit www.aliveinside.us. 

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