Alive Inside: A National Movement

It’s pretty amazing to think about our experiences in a lifetime.  What our mind decides is important to store in our brain forever vs. what we so easily forget.  People tell me I remember everything from jingles on TV, to what my friends’ childhood homes looked like, to what my favorite shirt was when I was five.  I don’t know what makes the mind remember things it may or may not use in the future.  We take for granted our abilities to remember even the most basic things without thinking about it.

When I was a teenager, my grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimers.  I remember four years after his diagnosis reading at his memorial service something that would stick with me forever.  “The man who was always behind the camera wanted to be in front of the lens.  The man who hummed quietly to himself, would sing and dance for the world to see.”  I rejoiced in my grandfather’s freedom through his disease.  He lost all inhibitions, and was like a child with not a care in the world except for what was for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and how many times he would get to eat these three meals throughout the day.

My grandparent's wedding day, before a lifetime of memories.

My grandparent’s wedding day, before a lifetime of memories.

Today, I watched a very touching documentary called Alive Inside.  This is what the film meant to me.  American’s have an interesting way of institutionalizing our elderly.  Nursing homes are not like homes (as in other countries), but more like hospitals, and less than half of the people in these homes are visited more than once a year by loved ones.  As parts of the human brain are shut down by Alzheimers, one of the last areas to go is the area where we store our memory of music.  The musical melodies are etched into our brains with district memories that go a long with them.  This story starts as one man’s journey to provide personalized music on an iPod for all Alzheimer’s patients in nursing homes in the U.S.  It’s so touching to watch him change the lives of these people and bring them to life just through headphones and a little bit of his time. He literally brings them back to life, and what starts as singing and dancing turns to distinct memories of who they were.   Watch this trailer and decide for yourself if you want to see the documentary.  Learn more about Alive Inside on their website,

This film inspired me in so many ways.

My grandfather, William Peiffer, and I on my college graduation day in 2008.

My grandfather, William Peiffer, and I on my college graduation day in 2008.


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