We started work on this documentary in 2011. It was first screened in 2012. In Singapore alone at least a thousand people have watched it on the silver screen. And we were truly surprised at who turned up in the audience. We never expected youths our age to turn up in droves to watch a documentary about dementia.
To granny: I think we all have things which are sentimental to all of us. Acceptance is hard. Because you are different from my memory – which contains the little, though wholesome, fragments of what you are and who you once were. Because I am piecing together the extremes of this reality and your past paradise. Because you are changing from the you I used to know. Because I’m still finding new ways to love you every single day.
The late Japanese author Ariyoshi Sawako’s 1972 novel “The Twilight Years” (Kōkotsu no hito) dealt with issues of age. Medical advancements are cruel, wrote the author, because they allow Man to neither fully live nor die. We will grow old one day. If we are unfortunate enough to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, will our families view us as burdens that can neither fully live nor die?
已故日本女作家有吉佐和子在1972年出版探讨老龄化小说《恍惚的人》。 小说中女主人翁昭子在家婆骤然长逝之后，赫然发现一向难处的家翁突然变成了“恍惚的人”（痴呆症）。 八十四岁的家翁变成了一个需要昭子不时紧盯的老小孩。 他失去了方向感，不认得身边的儿子和孙子（却只认得媳妇昭子），不记得何时吃饭，甚至到了后期因大小便无法控制而不得不穿上纸尿片。 小说中有这么一句：医学进步太残酷，让人活不成死不了。 终有一天，我们也会老去。 待我们老了又不幸患上老人痴呆症，家人又是否会视我们为“活不成死不了”的沉重包袱？
As doctors, we try to be objective in order to think of our patients’ best interests without our judgement being clouded by sentiments. But it is a daily struggle not to show emotions – sympathy, sorrow, frustration, anger when dealing with the care of elderly people who have forgotten what life was like when they were still able to care for themselves and their loved ones. When loved ones get too caught up with their own lives to give a damn for our elderly people, they voluntarily forget they need to care.
We often use “quality of life” to explain medical decision-making, especially at the end of life. The more medical technology progresses, the more we realise that it is not just the length, but the quality of survival, that matters.
Sketch: “Have you eaten?” (For the 15th time). Don’t forget about them even though they’ve forgotten about us. Love you, grandma & grandpa.
The only truly immortal thing that we have of another person is our memory of them. We may forget, they may forget. So treasure the present. Don’t hang onto the past, grasp the present. The future isn’t here yet, but you’re already despairing.
How I miss your presence in my life. Though your body is still here, dementia has stolen your memory and taken you away from us. Eight years have passed since dementia first appeared in your life, and it has completely conquered your mind. You are no longer aware of your own identity, let alone the identities of those whom you so loved before.
Betapa aku merindui kehadiran mu di-dalam hidup ini. Walau jasad mu masih bersama kami namun, demensia telah meragut daya ingatan mu dan membawa mu jauh dari kami. Setelah lapan tahun berlalu semenjak demensia mula mengganggu hidup mu, kini ia telah berjaya menakluki fikiranmu sepenuhnya. Sehinggakan kau tidak lagi mengenali siapa dirimu dan identiti ahli famili yang amat kau kasihi dahulu.