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Thursday, September 17, 2020

Alzheimer’s Film for Family, Caretakers

This Academy Award-nominated documentary may be old, but it strikes a familiar chord for anyone traveling through the process of dementia with a loved one.

If any of you are caregivers or family of someone with dementia, this is for you. Some classic films stand the test of time. Casablanca is just as compelling today as when it was released in 1943. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest still resonates, and The Big Chill paints a portrait in time as fresh as when it was filmed in 1983. 

All of these cinematic endeavors were scripted and acted. Documentaries, on the other hand, can capture an era, a time and place, by virtue of being real and present in that moment. But time moves on, and often, the issue at the film’s core has changed enough that the film becomes a time capsule with only historical resonance. 

Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter

Sadly, in the twenty-five years since Deborah Hoffmann made Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter, not much has changed for those with Alzheimer’s disease. There is no cure, no medication to stop the brain from changing. Because of that, the dialogue in the piece could be exactly what a mother and daughter in similar circumstances may say to each other today. If you are caring for a parent with dementia, you may get chills down your back just watching the trailer, where Hoffmann discusses her evolution from trying to set her mother straight to accepting her mother’s tilted perception and joining her in that world.

Hoffmann is the daughter in the film. Her clever, honest style and deep love for her mother ground the piece, juxtaposing her increasing frustration and hurt as the dementia progresses. “I was constantly looking for a way to connect, and a way to know what she’s thinking and what she’s feeling, and what I should be doing,” Hoffmann says. “But it was more like interpreting dreams.”

The film is not without levity; in fact, Hoffmann describes it as a humorous film. The filmmaker chronicles her mother’s Banana Period, when she consumes banana after banana, with no memory of the ones she has eaten before. And Hoffmann does come to terms with her mother as she is toward the end of the film. “She is the ultimate of living in the moment,” Hoffman says with pride. “She’s sort of the ultimate enlightened person.”

Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter is available for $4.99 on Vimeo.  Even if you don’t want to pony up for the movie, go there to watch the trailer; it’s worth it. Go here. 

Click below for the other articles in the September 2020 Senior Spirit


Blog posting provided by Society of Certified Senior Advisors