My subjective opinions of movies (even remotely associated with dementia):
Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me (Netflix)
Documentary: Legendary singer and guitarist Glen Campbell goes on tour after he’s diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
You’ll love his family’s love and honesty, as well as the patience the audience shows him. But even as he deteriorates in daily life, the way he’s able to tap into long-term (and muscle) memories to perform onstage is breathtaking.
Alive Inside (iTunes)
Documentary: The enduring power of music as the brain fades.
An uplifting film that won the Audience Award at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. If you’ve ever wondered how you can you connect with someone suffering from severe dementia, this movie suggests one of the simplest, cheapest, and most remarkable ways to reach people through music. Research behind the approach is compelling, but patients’ reactions will bring tears to your eyes.
Can Alzheimer’s Be Stopped? (PBS on demand)
Documentary from Nova: Reporter Greg O’Brien reports on his own decline in an attempt to shatter stereotypes. It includes details about the latest research (plaques? tangles? genetic origins? environment?) and treatments, plus interviews with researchers from Genentech, as well as a physician who has treated families with early onset dementia, often beginning around age 45.
The Alzheimer’s Project (HBO)
An in-depth documentary series covering:
- The Memory Loss Tapes
- Momentum in Science
- Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am? — For kids
The science is heavy — the lineup includes leaders in these fields — and fascinating. But what really struck me (read: made me cry) were the interviews with the family members afflicted with the genetic mutation that guaranteed early onset Alzheimer’s. Their commitment to use their misfortune to help others is deeply moving.
Drama & Comedy
Still Alice (Netflix)
Drama: A Harvard professor battles early-onset dementia.
Actress Julianne Moore won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her performance with an all-star cast that includes Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, and Kate Bosworth. While the movie is good (how could it not be with these actors?), you may find it tilting toward the milder, prettier side of reality.
Away from Her (Hulu)
Drama: A man copes with his wife’s decline from Alzheimer’s disease.
A tender film about how cognitive decline ends a 40-year union. What’s not to love about Julie Christie’s performance? Here’s a comprehensive review from RogerEbert.com. Because he (or anyone working for him) does it better.
Know a movie or book you think should be included on the site? If so, please let me know the title and your opinion of its value.