On Sunday night, actress Julianne Moore took home gold at the Academy Awards for her portrayal of a professor with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease in the film Still Alice. I was thrilled to see this happen, particularly because of the bright light it shines on a devastating disease that doesn’t get enough attention, and is poised to grow to epic proportions over the next 25 years.
According to a 2011 study by the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 10 million boomers will eventually be diagnosed with the disease. Currently, there is no cure.
Julianne Moore says the most rewarding part of her role in the film “Still Alice” has been helping to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s. I enjoyed watching this interview clip where Moore brilliantly articulates her understanding of the illness & compassion for all who struggle (both as patient or as a loved ones).
Moore is correct, Alzheimer’s Disease is “devastating”, and the fear and isolation that surrounds the illness adds insult to injury. As she says, there may not be a formal standardized “treatment plan” for Alzheimer’s yet (like we now have for cancer), but there is an exciting approach that has been proven to slow the deterioration and in many cases reverse memory loss – at least for a significant period of time. What is this “miracle restorative memory drug”?
God’s power and gift of MUSIC.
In my day job I help coordinate programs for the elderly and aging. One of those programs is called Music & Memory™ which has been spreading throughout the nation and the world after being the subject of another award-winning film – a documentary called Alive Inside. [if you haven’t seen this beautiful, life-changing film yet, don’t delay! It’s available on NetFlix right now. Go watch it! You can thank me later.]
It turns out that all the music we’ve ever loved and listened to over and over – our personal life playlist if you will – is embedded deep inside of us. Our music is inseparable from our souls. All of that music has been interwoven tightly into our neuron pathways and around our memories. So, when those memories start to fade, and become more and more difficult to retrieve, all we have to do is hear the song that it’s been wrapped up with, and the memory comes flooding back in living color. The results are nothing short of dramatic – which the Alive Inside documentary shares beautifully (tip: I strongly recommend keeping a box of tissues handy).
“So many people with this disease feel isolated and marginalized. One of the wonderful things about movies is it makes us feel seen and not alone. And people with Alzheimer’s deserve to be seen, so we can find a cure.”
– Julianne Moore, Academy Award Acceptance Speech Feb. 22, 2015
Until the medical community finds a 100% cure for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, here’s 5 things we can do!
- Reach out to those in your circle who are struggling either with the diagnosis, or who are caregivers. Give of your time, talent and love.
- Get information and education about the illness – be aware of the 10 warning signs.
- Pull out all your music and sing & dance! Keep YOUR own musical memory repository full.
- Load favorite songs onto an iPOD for a loved one with declining memory to listen to over and over again in order to retrieve and refresh those precious memories!
- Visit the Music & Memory website and see if the program is available in your area (if you live in Utah – you can get involved at this page!)
What’s a song that you definitely want to be on your playlist, and what memory does it hold? – MoSop
P.S. Speaking of UNFORGETTABLE SONGS…how about that Lady Gaga Sound of Music Tribute, – pretty cool, huh! 🙂