Marcel Brasey recently emailed to tell me about a video called “Fortunately” that the French Alzheimer’s Association planned to air on television and on their web site. The video seems to show people with very advanced dementia in dire situations.
A woman urinates in the grocery store, another stares blankly into the camera with blood running down her face, a man eats dog food, etc. Dark music plays in the background. At the end, the words on the screen say “Fortunately, they won’t remember.”
Danny George has written on the Myth of Alzheimer’s blog about how degrading and dehumanizing this video is. It’s not uncommon - I found similar videos from Alzheimer’s South Africa and Alzheimer Nederland on the web. But I can’t imagine a similar video portraying the most horrifying aspects of advanced cancer or kidney disease. For some reason, we still stigmatize dementia more than other health conditions.
Marcel was one of many who signed an online petition asking the French Alzheimer’s Association to drop the video. Their efforts were successful. A good next step would be to focus more on the strengths and dignity of people with dementia. Why not a video showing how people like Marcel lead meaningful lives despite cognitive challenges?