DVD Offers Stunning Look Into What It’s Like to Have Alzheimer’s

  • Be With Me Today is a DVD that every person who interacts with someone who has Alzheimer's disease should own. Richard Taylor was diagnosed with dementia, probably of the Alzheimer's type, when he was 58 years old. Now 66, Richard speaks to the public about living with the disease. This DVD version allows all of us to hear and see Richard as he challenges Alzheimer's outsiders to learn more about the needs of those who have the disease.


    Some readers will remember when I reviewed Richard's book "Alzheimer's from the Inside Out." This was Richard's first big attempt to get people to understand what it's like to have the disease. It's a powerful book I still often recommend. 

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    In Be With Me Today, which is a video of a talk Richard gave to members of the culture change folks at the Pioneer Network (www.pioneernetwork.net), Richard gets graphic. He tells us of how his daughter, after a year's absence, said to his wife, "There's something wrong with Dad." That was the beginning which eventually led Richard to seek diagnosis.


    He tells of his grief stage in which he felt he was going to soon die, so he got his legal business in order. He went through all of the classic stages of grief, only to find out he was living and living fairly well. Still, those stages are a part of accepting nearly any important loss in our lives, and an Alzheimer's diagnosis certainly qualifies in that area.


    Richard helps outsiders understand dementia by the analogy of computer processors. He says people without dementia have one type of processor (in this case he says IBM), and people with dementia have a different type of processor (in this case he uses Apple as an example). He tells us that both processors are working but they can't communicate very well. I find this analogy extremely effective in getting across his assertion that people with Alzheimer's and other dementias are still whole beings. They are still "in there." They just process information differently. This difference in processing continues to widen as the Alzheimer's progresses.


    It's well known that dementia starts long before there are symptoms.  In the video, Richard talks about how the brain functions by covering up malfunctions; how  in his case his wife covered for him and how his education (he was a psychologist) covered for him, so he was able to function in the "real world" for quite awhile. Eventually, however, he admitted he needed help.


    There is far too much in the video for me to even attempt to cover, and there's no way any words can replace the power of watching and listening to Richard talk about what it's like to have the disease. His main points are that people working in culture change should be asking people with Alzheimer's what they want; what they need. We should all work in tandem. One important point that Richard makes should be obvious to everyone - we all need a purpose in life. That includes people with dementia. Culture change includes helping people with dementia continue to know they have a purpose in life. There is a person "in there" and Richard doesn't want us to forget it.


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    There are challenges Richard has yet to face. I know this man will continue to teach us all as he travels this road as a person with dementia, probably of the Alzheimer's type. This DVD is one of his most effective tools. It can be purchase (along with his book, if you choose) at www.haveagoodlife.com. The video alone costs $34.95 and some of the proceeds will benefit the Culture Change Network of Georgia (www.CultureChangeGA.org). This is one you don't want to miss.


    For more information about Carol go to www.mindingourelders.com or www.mindingoureldersblogs.com.  

Published On: October 04, 2009