September 21st every year is World Alzheimer’s Day around the world. An international campaign aimed at raising awareness and challenge the common stigma that surrounds Alzheimer related dementia.
I had the change to present an event this week for “Koning Boudewijnstichting/ Fondation Roi Baudouin” to celebrate their 10 years work on dementia. In a collaboration with many projects and people, they want to create a friendly environment in our society for people suffering from this disease that for now we cannot yet cure.
“The truth is that dementia now stands along cancer as one of the greatest enemies of humanity. The cost to society and to the individuals and families affected are staggering.”
The apotheosis of the 10 years work was the projection of 2 amazing movies on the subject, that touched me very deeply, made me laugh and made me cry. It also made me think of my grandmother and grandfather. She had the disease for some years and he took care of her, always caring, always in love, although for this very intelligent man this was a huge challenge, but he remembered who she is, even if sometimes she forgot.
‘Tussen nu en morgen”, with an amazing Marijke Pinoy in the leading role was the first movie, very remarkable as it were 2 very young cineasts, Eric Kerckhoven and Wietse Claes guided by a neurologue Kurt Seghers, that took this theme for the short film. A film where subtlety is key.
( you can also watch it tomorrow 22/09/2018 on Belgian TV, Canvas )
The second movie was “Manu” from Emanuelle Bonmariage. She made a portrait of her father, an icon in Belgian cinema and documentary film. We saw the man that normal stood behind the camera, the man that is the camera, the man always very close to the characters he has so tenderly described. The camera is his second eye.
And the images said more than a thousand words. And I truly hope that my smile on stage touched him as much as the film touched me. As yes he was there, Manu Bonmariage, 76 years old now and suffering from Alzheimer.
A man that always lived for his passion, a man that has a fire within.
How old we are doesn’t and shouldn’t determine who we are. This is particularly pertinent in a world where we are living longer, healthier lives and where birth rates are falling. Our aging population means it’s more important than ever that we maximize our opportunities to be happy and productive. To achieve this, we must think of people as individuals rather than defining them by their age.
“People should not give up on their health and their dreams”
Older people want to stay active, they want to fall in love, and they want to pursue new careers. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could normalize a second or third round of education — or a first, for those who didn’t have one?
It is remarkable the amount of patience, fluidity, creativity, compassion,and comfort one must master when with somebody with Alzheimer’s.
Finding time to laugh, or more importantly just finding time to smile in any circumstance completely adjusts the mindset and provides a greater opportunity to better cope with any situation.
We need to continue loving these people as they are, because they are still the same person, even if they forget and we remember. Help them to keep their sparkle alive.