Monday, February 25, 2013

Movies Depicting Alzheimer's Disease

Photo by Simon Shek. 
[Updated January 5, 2016 to add The Alzheimer's Project (2009).]

Alzheimer's Disease radically interferes with a person's life. Scientists and health care professionals have done much to gather information and to offer support.

Books about Dementia

Hollywood has responded as well.  Filmmakers have already portrayed Alzheimer's Disease or other causes for dementia in a number of films in this century.

Here are summaries and links to trailers for some of the films I've found with a list of the others at the end of this post.

Note that some of the films actually depict vascular dementia or dementia due to Parkinson's Disease, but some of the behaviors and symptoms are similar, so the film depictions may help family members process their feelings nonetheless.

Most of the films below are feature films and not documentaries.  I'm trying to emphasize the contribution that artists make to better responding to the challenges and opportunities presented by dementia.  Nevertheless, documentaries also require a view from the humanities more than from the sciences, so I have a few in the mix.

I found all of these films on Netflix (except the first one, still in theaters).

Mr. Holmes (2015).  Ian McKellen plays Sherlock Holmes as a man who lived beyond the pages of the stories.  Set in 1947, the film finds the detective retired and reviewing his last case from 30 years prior. Watch him use every trick for improving his failing memory and every device for uncovering clues.  Can this world-famous detective revise his legacy in time to transmit it to the rising generation? Full Review.
Still Alice (2015). Based on the novel of the same name, Still Alice shows a university professor and her family adjusting to her diagnosis and clinical symptoms of early onset Alzheimer's Disease.  The theme of identity through work threatening identity through relationships is strong.  Trailer.  Goodreads review of the book.


Dying of the Light (2014). Nicolas Cage stars as Evan Lake, a CIA agent who receives a diagnosis of Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD).  He has an old score to settle, but the angry outburst of FTD cost him his job. He goes rogue and vows to do his best to bring a foe to justice--despite increasing problems with his memory.

Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me (2014). A documentary that depicts Campbell's life with Alzheimer's Disease (AD) from the time of his diagnosis through his farewell tour.  The docu shows his family and entourage showing him a lot of support while interspersing footage of his life and career in music, film and television.  Several musicians comment on his talent and explain how AD has affected their family, too. Full Review.

 Alive Inside (2014).  This documentary shows footage of persons with dementia responding well to music. However, this work is contexualized by interviews with Dan Cohen, founder of Music and Memory as well as interviews with caregivers, health care providers, dementia advocates and scientists.   Trailer.  Full Review.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Grief vs Depression and DSM-5 Criteria

Photo by aussiegall. 
Over the years, my ability to identify emotions has broadened.

Like the legendary example of Eskimos having multiple words for snow, I'm finding that the longer I examine the feelings of others and my own feelings, the more words I have for them.

Recently, I have bumped into articles and podcasts that seek to distinguish between grief and depression.  Many people would conflate them.

However, observation and research have shown that grief over a loss--such as the death of a spouse--is a  natural, normal response.

People usually adjust between 6 months and 18 months to such a loss.

The bereaved can also have moments during the grieving process where they can connect with others, laugh and enjoy life even if they sometimes also return to feeling the enormity of their loss. The bereaved will also return to a sense of loss now and then during birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and other memory-evoking situations.  But generally, they are over time able to function and enjoy life.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Confessions of a Claymate

Photo by theilr.
When I was a teen in the 1970s, I didn't have the conventional celebrity crushes. Growing up, I listened to my parents' LPs, so I was more interested in Frank Sinatra and Nat Cole than singers who fronted the rock bands of my youth.

I felt a certain superiority when my friends talked giddily about the virtues of David Lee Roth's hair or Steve Tyler's lips.  I did not swoon for such superficiality. I listened to music that withstood the test of time and admired singers who didn't rely on such gimmicks to sell their songs.  I was composed and knowing.
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This post is part of GenFab blog hop for February as featured in HuffPost50.
Quotes from this post on slide #3.   
Want to see other women confess their crushes?
The Midlife Guru writes about Bobby Sherman
Carpool Goddess writes about being a Bond Girl 
Menopause Flashes writes about John Travolta
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But decades later, I transmogrified from a rational college instructor/mother of two and into a fanatic.  In 2003, I developed a crush on American Idol contestant Clay Aiken. Yes, I was a Claymate, a member of the Clay Nation, and the keeper of Clay's Jazz Hands, as I claimed them on a fan board.

Whither this madness?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Communication System Supports Senior Safety

Photo by oosp
Wouldn't it be great if your parents could ring a bell and have servants come running?  21st Century technology offers help at their finger tips without the hassle of rigging the house with pull cords, ropes and bells--and without the expense of housing servants.

As our parents choose to age in place, it can be vital that they have the right kind of telephone system, one that is portable and has helpful features such as one-touch dialing, big buttons, reminder messages, and adjustable volume. 

Vtech Communications Ltd. has developed a product that has many features of a conventional phone system, but this product can increase functions if your parents' needs change.  Careline™ Home Safety Telephone System system has three components: 1) a touch-tone telephone base with corded handset 2) a cordless handset with its own charging base and 3) a pendant with its own charging base.  

Careline™ Home Safety Telephone System. 
The telephone base has four large buttons that you can program for one-touch dialing. You can add a photo that corresponds to each phone number: you, a neighbor, the local pharmacy, or 911.

The cordless phone has large buttons, a large display screen, volume controls, a speaker button and other features.

The wearable pendant phone has two one-touch dialing buttons. A parent might choose to program these to call an adult child's cell phone for one and 911 for the other.

The pendant is also able to receive phone calls, so if your parent doesn't reach their party with the first attempt, he or she can receive a return call.  Or if your parents are merely busy using both hands to fold laundry, garden or walking across the length of the house, they can still answer the pendant phone easily by just keeping the lanyard around their neck or on a clip (included) attached to a belt or pocket.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ugly Duckling Becoming Silver Swan via the Gym

Photo by seriykotik1970
Forty years after the fact, I am glad my peers called me ugly.  In junior high, I was nominated as homecoming queen by the other students in my French class as they laughed openly at me and made mention of my pimples, glasses and flat chest. I left school early and cried all the way home.  But the outcome ended up being positive. That day, I decided to diversify my personality portfolio.

Now, I don't mean to say that appearance doesn't matter. I do recognize the social significance of beauty. I'm not blind.  However, beauty is primarily the purview of the young.  Because I was repeatedly told as a youth that I was unattractive, I decided forty years ago to decrease time and money spent on my beauty regime. Or as the French say, "Pour un de perdu, deux de retrouvĂ©s."* That roadblock has served me well as I age. Over the years, I have worked on being smart, hardworking, reliable, and strong instead.  

Now that I've reached mid-century, I am thankful for those mean girls and popular boys for shooing me away from beauty as a vehicle for achieving personal power.  I have spent very little time in front of the mirror and very little money on brand-name clothing, cosmetics, jewelry or--later in life--plastic surgery.  I have spent more time studying or working at the office and more money on tuition, books and computer equipment. Success is the purview of the old.