People with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s steadily deteriorate, leaving their family members to cope with an ever-changing landscape of challenges. As dementia deepens, caregivers must find new ways to connect with their loved ones and honor the humanity that lives on. That struggle is the focus of the series of short documentary films “Living with Alzheimer’s,” produced by David Shenk with the support from the MetLife Foundation.
The four films offer emotionally rich snapshots of people living with AD, each told through the unique lens of a different director. In “A Place Called Pluto,” directed by Steve James, a reporter struggles to hold onto the fraying remnants of his cognition, while his family tries to accept his inevitable decline. In “De’memb’unce,” director Roger Ross Williams explores the toll of AD on the Gullah people of South Carolina and Georgia, an isolated population of African-Americans reluctant to accept outside help. An upbeat documentary, Naomi Boak’s “Let the Band Play On,” displays the power of rhythm and music to reach people with AD. In the fourth movie, “My Little Friends,” directed by Megan Mylan, people with AD find purpose and joy by interacting with children.
This series explores AD from many angles, but a common message unites the films: Living with this disease is a daunting struggle, but opportunities for joy and connection persist long after memories fade.