Sunday, February 10, 2013

Dementia: The 8-Minute Film that took 5 years of a Broken Heart to Make

Tommy Whitelaw is a fulltime caregiver for his mom, Joan, who has dementia. He describes the disease as a "cruel and all encompassing condition," one that affect the lives of 82,000 in his country, Scotland.

Tommy has made it his mission to raise awareness of dementia. In 2011, he walked across Scotland to meet people who have similar experiences with dementia. He visited workplaces, football teams and met with politicians...but most of all he collected letters and emails from people who are caring, just like him.

"Dementia" is a sad and wonderfully informative film. The shots inside empty football (soccer) stadiums bring home the enormity of dementia and the letters bring home the impact it has on not just the victims but the family caregivers, whose lives, like Tommy's, have been changed forever. 

A few of the quotes that touched me most:    
  • "I look after my husband, the husband I lost, he's not really my husband anymore."
  • "I am the mother figure and Ian is the child, instead of being husband and wife."
  • "I woke up in the morning and my wife asked me who I was."
  • "She can't remember my dad, the man she loved for 44 years."
I urge everyone to watch this film. It only takes 8 minutes. 

Note: If you're a caregiver for someone with dementia, and you'd like to share your story with Tommy, email it to

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