On Dementia, Alzheimer and Screenwriters

Friday’s episode of the Sci-Fi TV show “Fringe” presented a unique story where a loving husband was able to temporary turn back time and talk with his wife before she succumbed to Alzheimer.

If you follow the entertainment industry (e.g. TV and movies) you probably have noticed that in the past 12 months the number of stories using Dementia and Alzheimer as a plot driver has increased significantly. In addition to Friday’s episode, the mother of the main character in the TV show “unforgettable” suffers from Dementia as well. The “planet of the ape” movie plot starts with one scientist efforts to find a cure for Alzheimer in an attempt to save his dad. On top of these, the number of documentaries and news segments on these issues has increased as well (Larry King’s dedicated special on Alzheimer and number of national news segments on Alzheimer).

Dementia and Alzheimer are often referred to as the next epidemic and in recent surveys they were the number one concern for seniors, elderly and the future family caregivers. We can only assume that, as global threats emerged in past (AIDS, SARS, the bird flu etc.), screenwriters leverage this “hot topic” to create stories that a large audience can relate
to – especially when it concerns the immediate family.

Interestingly enough, in all of the examples mentioned here, there were no “happy endings” such as finding a miracle cure. In the end, the caregivers find themselves with a growing frustration and emotional pain as their love ones slip away – much as in real life.

We do find this rise in Dementia and Alzheimer references encouraging and hope that this will help and increase the public’s overall awareness and knowledge. Let us just hope that the reason writers will abandon and move on from this subject will not be because of an exotic and deadly new disease but because someone found a cure to Alzheimer.