By Michael Connors, CANHR Advocate
Hard to believe but true, Henry Dreher, a 94 year-old nursing home resident, is the latest internet sensation. Until recently, Henry was increasingly withdrawn and communicated little in the nursing home memory care unit where he has lived for ten years. Then he dramatically awakens before our eyes in a moving video clip that’s been viewed by millions on YouTube since it was posted last week. Even USA Today took notice.
Henry’s awakening comes when he starts listening to Cab Calloway and other favorite singers on an iPod given to him by Music & Memory, a non-profit organization that aims to give elders like Henry some happiness through the gift of music. The sheer joy of his response and his singing are priceless, as are the memories the songs evoke.
The video clip is from a documentary, Alive Inside, which shows the amazing power of songs from our past to rekindle memories and bring joy to elders like Henry who live in nursing homes. The documentary is premiering this week in New York.
Nursing homes are also taking notice. According to an article today in McKnight’s Long Term Care News, nursing homes are inundating Music & Memory with requests on how to start this program. And it says that Dan Cohen, Music & Memory’s founder, is hearing that participating nursing homes are reducing use of psychoactive drugs.
Kudos to Music & Memory, the filmmakers, Henry and his companions, and the nursing homes that are trying to bring happiness and renew memories for their residents.