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One of Canada’s Top Ten Films of 2005 is now available as a “teaching” DVD for hospitals and long-term care facilities.

Memory for Max, Claire, Ida and company is an actuality drama of eight seniors living at Baycrest’s long-term care facility in Toronto. These individuals – in varying stages of cognitive decline – share their humor, anger and fear about losing their memory.

Memory poster imageMade by acclaimed Canadian filmmaker Allan King, Memory had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) last fall, and to date has shown at 28 film festivals around the world. The TIFF Group voted it one of Canada’s “Top Ten Films of 2005”.

The DVD release from Allan King Films Ltd. includes the 112-minute documentary, with options to display English, French and German subtitles, plus a bonus healthcare commentary track that can be used as a teaching tool. The latter track is an audio commentary by a social worker and two psychologists who share insights and interpretations of scenes in the documentary, with particular focus on ways of communicating and interacting more meaningfully with people who are experiencing cognitive changes.

“The aged are as sensitive and as rich in humanity as people are at any age,” says Allan King. “I hope the film will stimulate a major increase in personal care and attention for all people experiencing the dramatic and disturbing effects of change in their cognitive skills.”

“This is a powerful teaching tool for the long-term care sector and virtually anyone who interacts with older adults,” says Nancy Webb, vice-president of Public Affairs at Baycrest. “Dementia is such a frightening, dehumanizing and unfair label. Allan King’s film deconstructs that crippling label to reveal through the words of eight feisty residents in our nursing home that cognitive change does not mean we lose our identity, our feelings or our desire to feel connected to others.”

“This film is about seeing the whole person behind the pathology. Once we can make that leap in perspective, it completely changes the way we communicate and interact with that person and the way they respond to us,” adds Dr. Michael Gordon, vice-president of Medical Services at Baycrest.

“The film goes a long way to revealing the utterly human side of people with Alzheimer’s disease or other cognitive disorders, as well as the importance of treating such people as people!” says Steven R. Sabat, professor of Psychology at Georgetown University in Washington and author of Dementia: Mind, Meaning, and the Person (2006).

Dr. Sabat is one of three voices on the teaching track; he is joined by Baycrest senior social worker Ruth Goodman and Dr. Guy Proulx, director of Psychology and Neurorehabilitation. Goodman is author of Visiting with Elders, a free online guidebook that was inspired by the film and aims to help family members, volunteers and healthcare professionals have positive and meaningful interactions with older adults who have a cognitive impairment.

To purchase the teaching DVD of Memory for Max, Claire, Ida and company, call 416-964-7284 or go to Groups and institutions can purchase a five-year limited public performance license ($395) for the right to show the film free of charge to patrons on their institutional site for educational purposes. Individuals may also purchase the DVD for private viewing at a cost of $45.