Living With Alzheimer's

What do we think of when we hear the words Alzheimer’s disease? The brain perhaps, tangles and neurons and maps of shrinking areas. Or maybe graphs and diagrams of the staggering statistics come to mind. For the creative directors of a new film project called, Living with Alzheimer’s, the disease has many faces, all of which are human.

In four micro-documentaries, the directors follow individuals diagnosed with the disease along with their family and loved ones to simply bear witness to what it is like on a day-to-day basis to function and have quality of life and live the questions of what they future will hold. At the heart of all of these short films is the questions, how will we be human in the face of this disease that currently has no cure or treatment? How will these individuals with the disease be in our lives, our communities, or world?

The first film, by Rogers Ross Williams, titled De ‘mem’bunce follows the story of the Gullah, descendants of slaves residing in the low country region of South Carolina and Georgia. It is an incredible story of how our culture and community pay a large role in how we face a disease and what it means for us.

The second film, by director Steve James, is called A Place Called Pluto. It follows the story of Gerg O’Brien, a long-time Cape Cod reporter and newspaperman, who has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The film shows the vulnerability of his own young family as they wrestle with the diagnoses as well as the individual grief Greg faces even as he acts with journalistic grit to frankly write about his journey.

The third film, by Megan Mylan is called My Little Friends and provides a snapshot at a revolutionary new way to think about dementia care. A very special program in New York pairs elders with dementia with young children. In helping one another they are meeting a deep need for connection and purpose.

The fourth film, by Naomi Boak, called Let the Band Play On, really highlights the role that the arts has to play in helping those with dementia have life and enjoy the moment. The film depicts a dance therapy session at an assisted living facility for individuals with dementia and it is full of the human connection that is crucial to well-being.

(Visit http://livingwithalz.org/ to view the film series.)

With more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, projects like this one really help us wrap our head around the real human impact of that growing number. As a Geriatric Care Management company it is our goal to help our community change the way that we think about, or don’t think about, dementia and Alzheimer’s. We believe that art like this is helpful for us to begin to have conversations before crisis and transform the way we think about dementia care.

If you are facing the decisions of how to best care for a loved one with dementia or are planning for the future, a good starting point is to consult with a Professional Geriatric Care Manager. As eldercare experts they specialize in coordination care solutions that optimize both safety and quality of life for clients and their loved ones. You can find a care manager anywhere in the United States by visiting www.CareManager.org. In the Puget Sound region, you can find a Geriatric Care Manager at www.SoundOptions.com

Published on November 18, 2013.