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An Alzheimer's patient is given headphones to listen to music, in a scene from the documentary "Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory." Courtesy Sundance Institute
‘Alive Inside’ strikes special chord with Utah non-profit

A dozen folks at Jewish Family Service (JFS) will be paying close attention at a Sundance screening for "Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory" on Saturday.

That’s because the social service non-profit, in Salt Lake City since 1872, plans this winter to begin a music program like the one that’s the subject of the documentary.

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"Alive Inside" is about social worker Dan Cohen’s success in using personal playlists to unlock the minds of nursing-home residents suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

JFS employees have undergone training through Cohen’s Music & Memory non-profit. Soon, it will be sending iPod shuffles into the homes of clients, each loaded with a playlist that’s meaningful to the client. The agency helps elders age in their own homes, and has programs to guide and give respite to caregivers as well.

Ellen Silver, executive director, said it will be the first such program tried outside the walls of a nursing-home in Utah.

The music soothes those with anxiety, agitation and depression, and JFS plans to give the iPod Shuffles to people with mental health issues as well as dementia, Silver said.

"This will become another part of the toolbox," she said.

The Sundance Film Festival gave JFS 12 free tickets to the Saturday afternoon screening in Park City. That will also give them a chance to meet, in person, Cohen, the founder of Music & Memory.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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