Movie Inspires Alzheimer's Patients to Begin Day in New Way

Alissa Sauer
By Alissa SauerMay 20, 2015

A 2004 romantic comedy has inspired one assisted living community to change the way they communicate with their residents who have Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.

Residents who have Alzheimer’s at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, begin each day with a five minute video from a loved one letting them know who they are, where they are, and who will be caring for them.

Learn more about this innovative technique, how the movie inspires Alzheimer’s patients and the positive effects it is having on those living with and caring for the disease.

An Innovative Alzheimer’s Technique

An idea borrowed from an unlikely source is bringing a new twist to dementia caregiving.

Residents who have Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia at the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, begin each day with a five minute video from their loved ones reminding them who they are, where they are, and that they are loved and cared for.

The idea comes from the 2004 Adam Sandler movie, “50 First Dates” where Adam Sandler’s character plays a man in love with a traumatic brain-injured woman, played by Drew Barrymore. Because she has no short term memory, she does not remember him from day to day, so Sandler’s character makes a video that Barrymore can watch every day to remind her who he is and what their life together is like.

Director of Social Services at the Hebrew Home, Charlotte Dell, saw the movie and wondered: “It was fluff, but it made me think, ‘How could that translate to our residents with memory loss?’ We’re looking to see if we can set a positive tone for the day without using drugs. What better way to start the day than to see the face and hear the voice of someone you love wishing you a wonderful morning?”

The videos made by  loved ones are shown every morning to residents and have become part of a daily routine at the community. The technique is helping to ease the agitation of people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, according to the Hebrew Home.

Improving the Quality of Life for Those with Dementia

The program at the Hebrew Home is limited to people in early and moderate stages of dementia, who are still able to recognize their loved ones on the video and has started with residents who often refuse care or can be difficult to care for in the morning.

Geriatric psychiatrist Robert Abrams lauds the program, calling it “innovative and thoughtful.” He went on to say: “You’ve got a group of people with dementia who don’t really grasp the nature and purpose of their surroundings, or the circumstances that compelled them to be there. Consequently they’re alone and at sea, and feel frightened and even abandoned by family.”

Some experts caution that each and every Alzheimer’s patient is different, so the video technique being employed may not work for all people with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Is this technique something you would try for your loved one? Have you had any success with this new method of communication? Share your stories with us in the comments below.

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Alissa Sauer

Alissa Sauer

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