Research-based documentary offers a musical journey of dementia caring

Music is Life

A new research-based documentary film aims to inspire and create a shift in the current approaches to dementia care to one of relational caring. Produced by a team of researchers, filmmakers and musicians, the film Music is Life follows people living with dementia as they write and compose a song that reflects on the meaning of music in their lives. It will premiere with a live online launch at 7 p.m. on Sept. 21, World Alzheimer’s Day.

Music is Life explores how music can change lives for those living with dementia

Based on research conducted by Christine Jonas-Simpson (PI) (York University), Sherry Dupuis (University of Waterloo), Pia Kontos (University Health Network) and Gail Mitchell (York University), and funded by the Alzheimer Society of Canada, this film captures how music is the essence of our humanity – the soundtrack of life.

The film highlights people living with dementia, as well as Grammy Award-winning musician Simon Law, as they share their experiences with music and dementia. Based on research conducted at the Dotsa Bitove Wellness Academy, an arts-based academy of teaching-learning where music is a medium for relationships, engagement and life enrichment, the film aims to give viewers a new perspective on how music changes lives.

Christine Jonas-Simpson
Christine Jonas-Simpson

“Music is a medium that connects us to persons living with dementia,” said Jonas-Simpson. “This film opens us up to consider music beyond intervention and therapy and view it as a powerful medium for relating with people living with dementia. The film challenges stigma and shows how people with dementia can engage, connect and live a vibrant creative life in a community with others – where everyone thrives.”

Filled with laughter, tears, joy, dancing and singing, Music is Life shares the importance of relationships for persons living with dementia and how music is an accessible medium that can enhance those relationships.

“In the shadows of COVID-19, the importance of relationships for persons living with dementia has never been more urgent,” said Jonas-Simpson.

A trailer for the film is available to view at To watch the live premiere on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m., visit

For more information, or to follow the project, visit the website at