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"In that interaction is a sparking of life for the elder and a sparking of wisdom for the young," Rosatto-Bennett said. "We need wise young people."

September 20, 2017
Writer: Sydney Jensen

Five million.

That's how many Americans currently suffer from Alzheimer's, the debilitating, frustrating and lonely condition that causes people to forget more than just what they had for breakfast, but the very names and faces of their loved ones, according to Alzheimer's Association. 

In Idaho, that number comes approaches 24,000, representing 12.5 percent of Idaho's population, according to Alzheimer's Association. 

Filmmaker Michael Rosatto-Bennett didn't understand the scope of the suffering people with Alzheimer's and other dementia-related ailments underwent until he found himself behind a camera lens, filming a project aimed at bringing back some of the light and life in those with the disease. 

"It's sort of a hidden world all around us," Filmmaker and founder of the Alive Inside Foundation, told BYU-Idaho Radio.  "We learned that there was this disease that there was no cure for called Alzheimer's that literally just robs you of your capacity to touch your memories and there's this incredible remnant of the way that the brain is designed and the way the brain develops that allows music to wake emotion that's in your being and when that emotion wakes, there's a possibility of waking old, old pathways of the brain that have literally been forgotten."

Rosatto-Bennett first experienced this awakening when he filmed a dementia-stricken man named Henry.

"He's given an iPod containing, we know, his favorite music, and immediately he lights up, his face assumes expression, his eyes open wide, he starts to sing and to rock and to move his arms and he's being animated by the music," Doctor Oliver Sacks, M.D. says in the YouTube video now viewed over sixty-five million times. 

Now, Rosatto-Bennett wants to involve the younger generations in the awakening project called the Alive Inside Coalition. 

"You can take this journey with the elders in your life first," Rosatto-Bennett said. "We have a lot of work to do just within our own families...be the person that finds the music for them."

Rosatto-Bennett says millennials, in particular, can use an app created in conjunction with Spotify to identify favorite songs and music of loved ones even before dementia takes its toll. 

"In that interaction is a sparking of life for the elder and a sparking of wisdom for the young," Rosatto-Bennett said. "We need wise young people."

You can access the app and links to obtain a free pair of headphones for elderly who cannot afford the equipment, here.

The full interview with Michael-Rosatto Bennett is available below.