Must See: Alzheimer’s Stories Told Through Incredible Documentaries

by Nancy Wurtzel on February 11, 2013

As the old saying goes: A picture is worth a thousand words.  If that is true, then moving pictures are worth an entire library.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly a fan of words and images.  As you can imagine, I spend a good part of my day online, either writing or reading what others have written.  I also love still images, because a snapshot can capture so much in a single frame.  When I look at a photograph, it makes me think deeply of what came before and what is to come after.  Through the still camera lens we can see so much about others, ourselves and the times in which we live.

Yet, moving pictures — film — often brings everything together.  Film crystallizes ideas and provokes thought like no other medium.  It creates an experience that often stays with us long after we have forgotten a single image or the words on a page.

Alzheimer’s Documentaries and Films

Below are links to documentaries about Alzheimer’s disease. Three of the links will take you to the full film or films, while other links will lead you to a substantial trailer that will give you a taste of what you can expect by ordering the full-length version.

Don’t think these films are all doom and gloom.

Yes, they are about people with dementia and those who care for them. Some of the footage may make you cry. However, you also will find yourself smiling, laughing, shaking your head in agreement, empathizing and, most importantly, feeling understood. If you are a caregiver, you will relate to all of these films.

So, take a view.  You won’t be disappointed.

Alzheimer’s Disease Stories Told Through Film

You’re Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don’t   Lee Gorewitz, who has Alzheimer’s disease, struggles with incredible spirit to remember her old identity in a world outside of her new home.  This documentary is the very first film that is told from the inside view of a person in an Alzheimer’s care facility.  To learn how you can view the entire film about Lee’s journey, go to You’re Looking at Me

The Sandwich Generation   Filmaker Julie Winokur, and husband, photojournalist Ed Kashi, chronicle their  family’s journey as they uproot their lives and move 3,000 miles to care for her father, Herbie, who has Alzheimer’s disease.  The film is a story of love and sacrifice, and it shows the enormous impact this terrible disease can have on one Sandwich Generation family.  Visit the website to learn how you can view the entire film.

Choosing to Die   Prolific fantasy author  Sir Terry Pratchett announced in 2007 that he has early onset dementia. His moving journey to explore life and death options is detailed in this truly incredible film that won an Emmy last year.  If I had to make a list of the people I would like to meet before I depart this world, Terry Pratchett would be on that list.  Please watch this film to see why I feel this way.

Forgetful But Not Forgotten   This is a most interesting and moving piece of film-making, which tells the story of John Wynn who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at the young age of 57.   Weaving the past with the present, John’s son Chris — a Canadian filmmaker — tells his father’s story in a moving and heartwarming way.  Visit the website for more information about how to order the entire documentary.

The Alzheimer’s Project   This link will take you to the landing page for the HBO documentary series that was spearheaded by Maria Shriver.  It is not just one but four incredible films about the Alzheimer’s struggle.  There is also some valuable information on their website and some additional videos that were produced after the original series aired a few years ago.  And, everything is HBO quality, so you know it will be good.

Maria Shriver’s The Alzheimer’s Project

Thanks for reading and I hope you have the time to click on a few of the links.  These moving pictures will make a lasting impression.  Even if you have seen them already, these films are all worth seeing again.  In fact, I recently watched the Maria Shriver four-part one again.  Excellent.

You may have a favorite documentary or film about dementia you would like to share, so please feel free to include any appropriate film suggestions in a comment.

This post was written by Nancy Wurtzel and originally ran in The Alzheimer’s Reading Room.

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1 Judy March 14, 2013 at 11:31 am

Well I’ve watched the first 3 and if I were going to meet someone it would be the people in Sandwich Generation. I respect their sacrifice to care for their dad. Seeing Terry’s film I think solidified in my mind that when is up to God. When Mom wishes to die daily, I sometimes think maybe assisting isn’t a bad idea, but actually seeing someone do this, I know that man had a lot of good things he could have still done for his wife and friends and acquaintenances. And even if Mom doesn’t want to be alive, I know God is using her illness for some purpose and maybe some day I’ll learn what. Maybe I’ll watch the other films later, but for now I need to clear my mind from death and get on with living. Off to the upstairs I go to paint a bathroom.

2 Peter Gooley February 22, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Have you seen the Foreign Film Amour yet? A mate says it was extra-ordinary.. looking forward to going through this list… thanks for putting this together Nancy.

3 Nancy Wurtzel February 22, 2013 at 9:33 pm

Hi Peter! Yes, I did see Amour and it is quite incredible. I highly recommend it. Thanks for coming to read and for the comment.

4 lisaweldon February 12, 2013 at 11:19 am

Phew, you’re right. Am watching the Terry Pratchett film now. VERY powerful, beautiful cinematography.

5 Nancy Wurtzel February 12, 2013 at 11:26 am

I know. I felt so connected to him after viewing this film — what an extraordinary person. And, so approachable.

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