SADM #84 May/Jun 2019
John DenBoer, Ph.D., Clinical Neuro- Psychologist, Smart Brain Aging Founder
Dementia is a tough topic for a documentary.
Those suffering from dementia usually aren’t capable of reflecting on their experiences while their family and friends are often too distraught to take on the topic.
It’s a refreshing relief, then, to hear from someone who has both witnessed dementia in their family and has the medical expertise to offer some straight facts on the disease.
Dr John DenBoer is a US-based dementia researcher and the creator of Smart Brain Aging (http://www.smartbrainaging.com/) – a company that helps delay the onset of dementia and reduce its severity, through a science-backed brain training programme. Dr DenBoer was inspired to become an expert in the field after his grandmother was diagnosed with dementia, robbing him of the woman who raised him.
Dr DenBoer’s experiences as an academic researcher, dementia educator, and deeply affected grandson are explored in this touching and fascinating new documentary due to premiere on Netflix on 11th April 2019. It’s a sensitive look at the causes of dementia, misinformation surrounding the disease, and individual, personal experiences.
“There is so much misinformation around dementia – especially amongst the older generation,” Dr DenBoer explains. “Over the course of their lives, they’ve heard all kinds of information about dementia and now aren’t sure what to believe. Fortunately, we have a lot clearer picture of the many causes of different types of dementia, the trick is getting accurate information out there.”
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for dementia. However, Dr DenBoer’s research has shown that with the right education and mental exercises dementia can be slowed, the intensity of symptoms can be reduced, and sufferers can enjoy an improved quality of life.
“Dementia robs people of their independence, their memory, and their ability to express themselves,” explains Dr DenBoer. “This can be very depressing for those affected by the disease – both family and the sufferer themselves. That’s why it’s really important to make people aware and educate them on both the symptoms and exercises they can do to reduce symptoms.”
As the documentary points out, it’s thought that Robin Williams was suffering from undiagnosed dementia before his untimely death.
Other well-known actors, such as Samuel L Jackson, Seth Rogen and Hector Eliondo share their personal experiences of the disease in their own families.
“Almost everyone I speak to has been touched by dementia in some way – a partner, friend, or family member,” says Dr DenBoer. “People want to know how to help; what they can do to support someone living with the disease. But most importantly they want to hear from someone with a personal experience of assisting a person with dementia, not just another medical professional. I hope this documentary will offer understanding, education and above all hope to people living with dementia.”
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