An Oscar for ‘Alice’, Alzheimer’s Awareness & Unforgettable Music

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.

Julianne Moore wins "Best Actress" for STILL ALICE
Julianne Moore wins “Best Actress” for STILL ALICE

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!

  1. 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.
  2. Get information and education about the illness – be aware of the 10 warning signs.
  3. Pull out all your music and sing & dance! Keep YOUR own musical memory repository full.
  4. 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!
  5. 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! 🙂


  1. I have experience with this I’d like to share: My mother who is 85 has serious dementia and lives in a private home with six other ladies’ who each have the same disease to some degree. One morning, upon visiting my mom, I turned on the TV to the BYU channel. Music and the Spoken word was just starting. It was amazing what happened next. Each of the ladies, all in the 80’s or older where drawn to the TV which was centrally located in the home and watched, sang and kind-of danced as the music was played and sung. Some even knew the songs being sung and started to sing out-load. It was really a miracle to me and changed my mind forever as to the power of music touching our souls. — Some of these ladies have never spoken to me or even acknowledged me, but on that early Sunday morning, watching the Mormon Tab. Choir and Orchestra, each of the ladies, including my mother came to life. — I have since instructed the care-taker to record the Music and the Spoken Word every Sunday and replay the program during the week. I am happy to report; all the ladies just love it! Thank you for all you do in blessing people lives with your service in the Choir.


  2. I didn’t watch the Oscars, but I was accepted into the music therapy program at USU when we had to come home. I know the value of music and what it can do for the human brain and body, both in theory and personally. Thanks for bringing to light such an important issue. And such music! I never knew Lady Gaga could sing so well! I am thoroughly impressed!


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