Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Luke 6:30
Howdy all! What a busy week I find myself in. Sigh… I need to jump right in lest my technical world crash around me while I type. 😉
I was just thinking today about how dementia is portrayed in the movies and, specifically, in 2 TV shows: “This is Us” and “Criminal Minds”. Am I the only one who is happy to see many of these efforts? Dementia can, frankly, be hard to look at. There is no cute 3 year old holding a Teddy Bear as a spokesperson…no cute mascots not jingles. It is hard and it is ugly. This, sadly, is a challenge in the dementia world’s “brand”, if you will. Sadly, we have to brand ourselves and act like a business to differentiate ourselves and to show ourselves as more valuable to donate to than charity X or Y. Sad but real reality it is….
This is Us began in 2016. It follows, in a near Pixarian way, a set of triplets and their complex and amazing story. The show pushes the boundaries in many areas and really seems to represent where many families are, particularly in the coasts/big cities of the nation, in this era of our lives. It hits on every possible topic and does an amazing job placing us in the family as observers. I really like the show. I won’t dig deeply into the topic here lest I spoil the binge-worth show for you, but, suffice it to say, a major character struggles with accurate warning signs of dementia and is diagnosed with the disease. As of the most recent episode I have watched, the disease hasn’t taken front and center yet, but it may very well as time goes on. I like this aspect of the coverage because a diagnosis doesn’t mean conditions will get worse fast. My mom was diagnosed in 2009 and only got really “bad” in around 2017-8. There was nearly a decade that things were pretty darn stable. While it is a big deal in the show, they did a nice job in letting life move on a little here and there, although the show has bigger fish to fry, it appears…
Criminal Minds began its long run in 2005! It is a semi-typical crime drama with a very good cast of characters that attempts to catch a host of serial killers. It is dark and not for everyone, but if you dig that kind of thing, it is worth your while for sure. Dr. Spencer Reed, played ably by Matthew Gray Gubler, is a prodigy/genius type that really is the brains of the group. Dementia works its way into the show as Reed’s mom Diana, played by the ever-talented Jane Lynch, enters the scene. She has struggled with paranoid schizophrenia for Dr. Reed’s entire life and, toward the end of her time on the show, is revealed to have dementia as well. She is said to have “early-onset dementia that will likely progress into Alzheimer’s Disease” in season 11. While this propagates false information about dementia, it was handled well other than this verbiage. (Note: Dementia is the umbrella term/classification for all brain diseases of this type. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common type of dementia at over 3/5 of the cases, but there are many other types as well. You don’t progress from dementia to Alzheimer’s Disease any more than you progress from cancer to lymphoma. However, the acting and the general handling are good, so we can give this a pass, to a point). One thing the show did present in its final season is brief lucidity (aka Terminal Lucidity). Here are some links that discuss these rare glimpses of lucidity: LINK LINK LINK LINK LINK. I wonder if any of you have ever experienced this? Mom has had “more lucid than normal moments”, but the show took what I expect is some liberty and made her as good as new in the most recent episode I watched in the final season. It was emotional and they were warned it wouldn’t last long… but she appeared in great shape despite seeming to be in mid- to late-stage dementia. The jealous, sinful me got kind of mad and definitely jealous at the situation and was tempted to turn it off. However, the more I read, the more I see that the brain is amazing and has more reserves/pathways than anyone could imagine…so I reconsidered. It doers appear, as I read, that this lucidity is sometimes called terminal lucidity because it is often proceeded by a rapid decline and then death. But, I am still tempted to be coveting the fictitious character. I mean, getting to talk to mom like the old days, even for a day, and then she be ushered off to heaven wouldn’t be the worst way to go. How do you feel about this? Even if your experience is with another disease… I am curious.
Regardless, it is great to see many positive and accurate portrayals in movies and shows. If we can personalize this disease for more people, understanding and support will swell. I look very forward to Anthony Hopkins’ new-ish movie The Father as my next watch on the topic. I hear it is breath-taking.
Update: I spoke to the nurse at mom’s nursing home extensively yesterday. (Still no visits…Shawshank tallies on the prison wall continue). Mom occasionally murmurs a word or two, but nothing intelligible. She is eating fine (fed by staff), taking her meds, and is in no visible pain. She was approved for yet another 6-month (?) term of Hospice care this week although they are also Shawshanked. We find out Friday if we’ll get to visit next week or not based on Covid tests of all staff. (The residents are all vaccinated and seldom, if ever, get the virus…but the staff aren’t…and do.)
Thank you for the grace for another flyby article. 🙂 Have a great Hump Day!