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Ch. 75 Pat and I Watch a Movie whose Main Character has Dementia

Ch. 75 Pat and I Watch a Movie whose Main Character has Dementia   

January 2021     

Pat and I just finished watching and discussing the movie Elizabeth is Missing, starring Glenda Jackson as an elderly widow named Maud whose Alzheimer’s symptoms are worsening quickly. During the course of the movie, Maud gradually solves the mystery of her sister’s disappearance some sixty years before, all the while thinking she is searching for her missing friend Elizabeth. Meanwhile, there are several heart-breaking scenes between Maud and her caregiver daughter Helen (played by Helen Behan) as they struggle through situations such as Maud mistaking her granddaughter for a servant girl and the children selling the family home. Her daughter tries to be understanding but occasionally melts down and screams at her mother (as does Maud scream at her daughter).

          I was a little surprised that Pat wanted to see this film. I was ambivalent myself and probably would have passed on it if Pat hadn’t expressed interest. I did find myself identifying with the caregiver daughter, especially when she turns away from her mother to hide the tears that come at moments when she loses her mother to dementia. I know that feeling very well. The last time I felt that way was when Pat insisted in the middle of the night that I take her to her real home (Ch.79). But, just like when Pat disappears for a while into that void, in the movie Maud always returns and rejoins the shared mother/daughter universe.

          Meanwhile, Pat did identify to some extent with Maud. But she maintained a certain distance, noting correctly that her symptoms were not as severe or vivid as Maud’s. Plus, Pat has Lewy Body, not Alzheimer’s, although in many ways the movie character could just as easily been said to have Lewy Body, given her rapid mood changes and delusions. Nor does Pat remember the “take me home” incident. Once Pat’s Lewy Body unreal states finish, they are immediately erased from her memory banks.

          I’m glad Pat and I were able to watch this film together. It was scary to do so but worthwhile.

Pat’s comments on Pat and I Watch a Movie whose Main Character has Dementia:

          I thought the movie was very scary and there were times I didn’t want to watch it, but I did. I wouldn’t want to be that person, ever, and maybe that is what scared me. But in this scenario it wasn‘t me.

          I’m not crazy, by the way.