Alive Inside

Spreading the Music and Giving New Life

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“Music can reach deep into our hearts, awakening feelings that may have lain dormant for years, reminding us what a great thing it is to be a human being. But taste in music is personal, and the process of choosing what music works for an individual is quite involved but totally enjoyable. I am hearing a lot of ‘new’ and beautiful songs as I help nursing home residents select the pieces they want on their iPods.”

– Carolyn Peterson, Alive Inside volunteer

Jim Trow of Cypress Manor

Jim Trow, resident of Cypress Manor, listening to his music

The Alive Inside program, funded through partnership with the Keweenaw Community Foundation and Portage Health Foundation, brings personalized music to residents of area nursing homes through the technology of iPods, headsets, and iTunes. Through listening to playlists, caregivers are able to provide their patients who suffer from cognitive and physical challenges such as memory loss, depression, pain, or isolation with a variety of music designed to bring joy, comfort, and renewed meaning to patient lives. By listening to music, individuals are able to access deep memories, which can help them feel like themselves again.

Dan Roblee_Daily Mining Gazette

“Cypress Manor social services assistant Jenna DeLisle helps Marietta Place, 86, adjust her headphones to listen to some favorite tunes. DeLisle puts most residents’ playlists together at Cypress Manor, and Place still plays the piano when she’s in the mood.” -Photo and caption courtesy of Dan Roblee/Daily Mining Gazette

The local effort is part of an international project called “Music and Memory” that trains and outfits long-term care facilities with the necessary expertise, equipment, and support. The Houghton County Medical Care Facility in Hancock was the first local institution to become certified with the Music and Memory organization, and as of mid-November 2015, over one hundred residents had been outfitted with their iPods and headsets. According to Tammi Lehto, Administrator of the Houghton County Medical Care Facility, there was an appreciable decrease in the request for medications by those residents.


For more inspiration behind the project, watch the documentary Alive Inside, Winner of the Documentary Audience Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, available at the Portage Lake District Library

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