A number of years ago, when dementia was just coming to the forefront, there was this little joke about dementia that went around the senior care circles:

“The great thing about Alzheimer’s is that you get to make new friends every day.”

We now know of course that waking up each day not remembering who you are, where you are, why you are there is a terrifying, anxiety-inducing, painful experience for tens of thousands of individuals suffering from dementia. 

50 First Dates

After watching the Adam Sandler movie “50 First Dates”, Charlotte Dell, the director of social services at The Hebrew Home at Riverdale, was inspired to try an experiment.

The 2004 movie tells the story of Adam Sandler falling in love with a brain injured young woman played by Drew Barrymore who wakes up every morning with her memory of the day before completely wiped up. Adam Sandler sets out to help her remember him, fall in love with him and remember that love by making videos for her of the things they did together.

Reminding Dementia Residents

Charlotte got to wondering if creating videos of family members saying good morning and telling short stories about their interactions, then playing those videos for residents who have particularly difficult mornings would make a difference. 

Because of how the disease manifests in each individual, it is unlikely this is a solution for every dementia sufferer, but the initial results are encouraging.  Here are some examples from Charlotte of what is in the videos:

“Irving’s son-in-law, Mihai Radulescu, also made a video for her. In it, he kids her about being “a delinquent” because she once worked for a bootlegger.”

“On the recording, he repeatedly reminds Irving, ‘I know where you are. … I will always find you,’ because she has expressed a deep fear of being lost.”

“Other videos include a woman reminding her mother, in Spanish, to eat and take her medications, then tearing up at the end and saying, ‘I love you, Mom.’”

“On another video, a man encourages his mother, saying, ‘You used to tell me that attitude is everything . . . You said that it’s best to start off on the sunny side of the street.’”

You can see the entire story from AOL Here.

Steve Moran