Dementia – Ready for Reality TV?

Dementia – Ready for Reality TV?

With the explosion of Reality TV, what used to be considered mundane, private or off-limits is now broadcast in Technicolor for the world to see.

Millions watch survivors forage in the wild or follow pregnant teenage drama. Audiences scrutinize rogue Amish youth, excessive hoarders, extreme coupon clippers and folks battling addictions. Who could’ve imagined these previously taboo topics would be embraced and accepted as entertainment while garnering high advertising revenue and large audiences?

In 2012 over 15 million unpaid caregivers (primarily immediate family members) provided 17.5 Billion hours of dementia care; a contribution to the nation valued at over $216 Billion. Those unpaid family care partners deliver 80% of all community based dementia care. Fewer than 10% of older adults will receive their care from paid providers. **

If Dementia had a Reality TV series; the audience could swell to over 15 million!

Television executives have found a way to make bizarre quirks and addictions part of the entertainment cycle; why not share the stories from the frontlines of Dementia care? Raising awareness for this undeniable human condition is essential.

Most made-for-TV-dramas follow a pattern. They begin with a ‘set-up’ followed by a crisis which results in conflict and angst and it’s all wrapped up with a red-bow-of-resolution at the end of the hour.

Those of us who deliver dementia caregiving support can share scenarios of laughter and sadness. We are advocates, cooks, cleaners and personal shoppers. We assist with many or most of the activities of daily living, for those in our care. We cheer a success as we simultaneously mourn the loss of those in our care, in real time. The storylines are endless. The drama can be high while the rewards are sometime minimal.

Yet, the 15+ million continue to press on, while frequently battling our own limitations through stressful conditions. The ‘red-bow-of-resolution’ may not be traditional, but we celebrate the small victories each and every day when they occur.

Dementia isn’t sexy.

Dementia is often misunderstood and too frequently goes un-diagnosed.

But, it certainly is reality.

**Alzheimer’s Facts & Figures, 2013.