Why Dementia isn’t a PLOT DEVICE!


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Rachel here back with another car video! No, I didn’t film this in January or February. I did film it indeed in March, but it’s Pennsylvania. So there’s snow today! So today’s topic is about why dementia’s not a plot device, which is something that comes up often in movies and TV shows where you see people portraying dementia in a certain way. And typically it’s used as a sort, a sort of like a convenient plot twist. And I get so nervous when friends are like, Rachel, you should watch this show or this movie because somebody is in it who has dementia. And it’s like, oh my because I just know it’s going to be brutal. So infrequently does somebody actually do it. And, I’ve talked about this before. I think one of the only shows that I really saw that did it well was the Sopranos. They did a very, very excellent job with portraying dementia.

And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, well, but if you do know what I’m talking about, they did a great job. The most recent situation that I saw on TV was a show. I like very much, which is the Righteous Gemstones, which is also on HBO, just like the Sopranos was. And, I like very much how there’s a character that supposedly has dementia and it’s just kind of used as a plot device. Dementia is not a hat meaning we don’t take it on and put it and put it over there. Right. We don’t, we don’t take it off and go up. Remember that time I had dementia. That was crazy, which is my biggest problem with the notebook. And if you haven’t seen my little video about the notebook, definitely dig through the archives here and watch my video about that movie.

But dementia’s not something we just like put on our head and they’re like, oh, oh, right. Like, oh, he killed somebody, but he forgot about it, because he got dementia. No that’s not dementia – it’s not a plot device. And that’s the biggest mistake that I see Hollywood making about dementia is that they just haven’t really done their homework. And you know, whoever is writing the show or producing the show, or the movie, is relying on old tropes about what they think dementia is and they’re getting it wrong. So just be on the lookout when you see that on TV that, you know, if, if dementia’s being used as a plot device, especially if it’s just like a hat, like, oh, remember that time that I forgot that stuff. That was crazy. Ridiculous.

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Rachael Wonderlin is an internationally-recognized dementia care expert and consultant. She has a Master’s in Gerontology and is the author of three published books with Johns Hopkins University Press. Rachael owns Dementia By Day, a dementia care consulting and education company.

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