Alzheimer’s at the Movies

Alzheimers at the MoviesAmong the health observances in November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month.  Approximately 5.4 million individuals are living with this devastating disorder, the sixth leading cause of death among Americans.  To date, It is the only leading fatal disease with no means of prevention or cure. Total care costs for Alzheimer’s stands at $200 billion, $140 billion of that being shouldered by Medicare and Medicaid.  The latter figure is expected to reach a staggering $1.1  trillion in 2050 without intervention. As we celebrate “National Family Caregivers Month”, we are reminded that there are more than 15 million unpaid workers caring for these patients, at an additional immeasurable expense.

It is probably true that Nancy and Ronald Reagan brought the face of Alzheimer’s forward into the public consciousness.  Since that time, Hollywood has sought to shine a light on how Alzheimer’s affects both the patient and their families.  Here are a few of those films worth viewing:

  • “Safe House” (1998):  Patrick Stewart plays Mace Sowell, an ex-intelligence agent, with early Alzheimer’s who is convinced his former boss is intent on killing him.  He has to convince others that his assumptions are true and not paranoia brought on by his disease. With Kimberly Williams as his caregiver and Hector Elizondo as his doctor.
  • “Iris” (2001):  The lifelong love story of novelist Iris Murdoch and her husband, John Bayley, based on his book.  Their love endured throughout her battle with Alzheimer’s. Jim Broadbent, as Bayley, gives a remarkable portrayal of all that caregiving entails.  With Judi Dench and Kate Winslet.
  • “The Notebook” (2004):  Noah (James Garner) attempts to spark his wife’s (Gena Rowlands) memories.  Suffering from Alzheimer’s and in a nursing home, he visits every day reading from his own notebook/diary about their love and life together.
  • “Away From Her” (2006):  Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent star in this moving Canadian film about the sacrifices families make when Alzheimer’s enters their lives.  The Andersons make a mutual decision to admit Fiona (Julie) into a nursing facility where she ultimately forms an emotional attachment to another patient as her disease progresses.
  • “Poetry” (2010):  This South Korean film, with English subtitles, follows the a suburban woman in her 60’s who enrolls in a poetry class despite the onset of Alzheimer’s.  She discovers a horrible family secret, but grows as a poet and as a seeker of justice.

Enjoy these films!  Want to recommend others?  If you are an OT,  COTA , PT ,PTA or    SLP who works with Alzheimer patients we applaud you… and if you are looking for exciting new job opportunities in this field call us at 800 535 0076 and we will enable you to make a difference in these patient’s lives.

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