Dementia is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide, with devastating effects on both the individual and their loved ones.
While we often hear about the medical aspects of this illness, its emotional and social impacts on one’s family are just as significant.
That’s why movies about dementia are so important for representation and support — through film, we can explore the human experience of living with this condition, and the challenges that come with it.
By highlighting the struggles and triumphs of those affected by dementia, movies can provide hope and comfort for those going through a similar experience.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the most poignant and thought-provoking movies about dementia, from dramas to documentaries, and examine why these films are so essential in raising awareness and promoting understanding.
1. Still Alice (2014)
Still Alice is a 2014 drama film based on the novel of the same name by Lisa Genova. The movie follows Alice Howland, a renowned linguistics professor, as she begins to experience memory loss and is eventually diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
The film explores the impact of Alzheimer’s on Alice’s personal and professional life, as well as on her relationships with her family, including her husband and three adult children.
As the disease progresses, Alice struggles to maintain her identity and independence, and her family must confront the difficult decisions that come with caring for a loved one with dementia.
Still Alice deals with several important topics related to dementia and Alzheimer’s, including the challenges of early-onset Alzheimer’s, the impact on family dynamics, and the importance of support and communication when dealing with this illness.
The movie also sheds light on the stigma and misunderstanding surrounding Alzheimer’s disease and the need for greater awareness and compassion towards those affected by it.
Still Alice is a powerful and moving portrayal of the human experience of living with dementia and the importance of love, understanding, and acceptance in the face of this challenging illness.
2. Away from Her (2006)
Away from Her is a 2006 drama film that follows a retired couple, Fiona and Grant, as they navigate Fiona’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and her admission to a care facility.
As Fiona’s memory deteriorates, she begins to forget her husband and develops a close bond with another resident at the facility. Grant must come to terms with the loss of his wife and their relationship while also dealing with his own feelings of guilt and regret.
This film directed by Sarah Polley deals with several themes related to dementia and Alzheimer’s, including the effects of memory loss on personal relationships, the challenges of caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, and the importance of acceptance and letting go.
It also highlights the emotional impact on caregivers and how an Alzheimer’s diagnosis can affect the entire family.
Away from Her is a poignant and thought-provoking exploration of the complexities of Alzheimer’s disease and the impact it has on individuals and their loved ones, highlighting the importance of cherishing memories and relationships while they last.
3. The Savages (2007)
The Savages is a 2007 drama film that follows two adult siblings, Wendy and Jon, as they take on the responsibility of caring for their elderly father who has dementia.
The movie examines the challenges of caring for an elderly parent with Alzheimer’s, from providing physical care to navigating difficult conversations about end-of life decisions.
The Savages also explores the siblings’ relationship, their own uneasy feelings about their father’s situation, and how they must come to terms with their changing family dynamic.
This movie paints a realistic portrait of the difficulties of dealing with dementia and Alzheimer’s while also revealing the importance of patience and forgiveness in this challenging situation.
4. The Notebook (2004)
The Notebook is a romantic drama film based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks. The story follows the journey of a young couple, Allie and Noah, who fall in love in the 1940s.
Years later, Allie is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and forgets her past with Noah. Noah recounts the tale of their love story to his wife, as she listens with fresh ears each day, about the tale of their romance.
The movie explores the power of love and the impact of memory loss on relationships, highlighting the importance of cherishing the moments we have with our loved ones.
Through the portrayal of Allie’s memory loss, the film also sheds light on the emotional struggles of Alzheimer’s disease and the toll it takes on both the individual and their loved ones.
5. Aurora Borealis (2005)
Aurora Borealis is a drama piece focused around a man named Duncan (played by Joshua Jackson) who reconnects with his grandfather, Ronald (played by Donald Sutherland), after his grandmother is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.
Through their relationship, Duncan learns about his family’s past and gains a new perspective on life due to the challenges his grandfather is facing in dealing with his grandmother’s diagnosis.
It also sheds light on the realities of Alzheimer’s disease, while demonstrating the need for a supportive network of family and friends to provide comfort in times of crisis.
6. A Song For Martin (2001)
This Swedish drama film features a couple, Martin (played by Sven Wollter) and Barbara (played by Viveka Seldahl), who are both classical music composers.
Martin is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and the movie follows their journey as they navigate the changes in their relationship and Martin’s decline.
The film explores themes of love, loss, and the emotional toll of Alzheimer’s disease on those affected by it. A Song for Martin is a deeply moving portrayal of the struggles of living with Alzheimer’s disease and the impact it has on relationships as well as one’s creativity.
7. Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch (2001)
Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch is a biographical drama that’s based on the book by John Bayley.
The movie depicts the life of author Iris Murdoch (played by Judi Dench) and her battle with Alzheimer’s disease. The film portrays her relationship with her husband, John Bayley (played by Jim Broadbent), and the challenges they faced as her illness progressed.
This movie highlights the importance of treasuring the good memories we have with our loved ones, as well as emphasizing the need for patience and understanding when dealing with dementia.
8. Firefly Dreams (2001)
Firefly Dreams is a Japanese film following a young girl named Naomi who befriends an elderly woman named Mrs. Koide. Mrs. Koide is living with dementia, and as Naomi spends more time with her, she begins to understand the difficulties of living with the illness.
Through its portrayal of Mrs. Koide’s struggles and Naomi’s compassion, it brings awareness to Alzheimer’s disease and the importance of providing support to those living with dementia.
9. Age Old Friends (1989)
Age Old Friends is a film about two elderly friends, Joe and Gus, who are both living in a retirement community.
When Joe is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Gus must navigate the challenges of caring for his friend while also dealing with his own health issues.
The movie addresses themes of aging friendship as well as dealing with the emotional toll of Alzheimer’s disease on caregivers. Age Old Friends is a touching portrayal of the bond between friends and the impact of dementia on even the most long-standing personal relationships.
10. Lovely, Still (2008)
In Lovely, Still an elderly man named Robert falls in love with his new neighbor Mary. As their relationship blossoms, Robert begins to experience memory loss, and the movie explores the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on their blossoming love story.
It is a heartfelt film that demonstrates the positive effects of companionship in the face of dementia and sheds light on the struggles that come with caring for someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
11. A Word From Verywell
A Word From Verywell is a short film that depicts the experience of a woman living with dementia. The film follows the woman as she navigates everyday tasks and shows the challenges of living with this illness.
The movie offers empathy and understanding towards victims of dementia by showing an experience from their perspective.
12. The Iron Lady (2011)
The Iron Lady is a biographical movie about the life of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The movie depicts her impressive career while moving on to focus on her battle with dementia in her later years.
Some viewers have criticized the film for its portrayal of dementia as a convenient plot device. However, the film provides a powerful exploration of the impact of dementia on one’s career, as well as their social and political standing.
13. Still Mine (2012)
Still Mine is a Canadian film centered around an elderly couple, Craig and Irene, who are facing the challenges of aging.
When Irene begins to experience memory loss, Craig decides to build a new house that is better suited to their needs.
This proves to be more difficult than he imagines, as he must navigate changing regulations set by the Canadian government and also comes up against opposition from his own family who think he is trying to do too much.
This movie is a heartwarming tale of perseverance and dedication that brings awareness to the difficulties of living with dementia as well as the importance of respecting elderly people’s autonomy.
14. The Father (2020)
The Father follows the story of an elderly man named Anthony (played by Anthony Hopkins) who is living with dementia, and his daughter Anne (Olivia Colman), who is struggling to care for him.
The Father is an honest and uniquely raw exploration of dementia that captures its effects on both victims and their loved ones. It illustrates the unsettling portrayal of the human experience of dementia in a world where memory and reality are blurred.
This film highlights themes of loss, guilt, fear, and loneliness in a way that is both heartbreaking and eye-opening.
15. Remember When (2016)
Remember When is a short film about a woman named Martha who is living with dementia.
Martha struggles to remember the details of her life and the memories she has made over the years. She often finds herself forgetting events that have just taken place and being unable to recognize people she should know.
As her condition worsens, her daughter Laura must grapple with how to balance caring for her mother with honoring her independent spirit.
This film offers an intimate portrayal of the realities of living with dementia, and it serves to remind us that those affected are still people full of dignity, worth, and love.
16. The Leisure Seeker (2017)
The Leisure Seeker is a comedy-drama film about an elderly couple, Ella and John, who embark on a road trip in their vintage RV.
John is living with dementia, and the movie follows their journey as they hope to embark on one last trip together before John’s deterioration continues too far.
If you’re looking for a somewhat lighter take and a movie that manages to be a comedy while still dealing with issues surrounding Alzheimer’s, this is a great pick.
Movies about dementia and Alzheimer’s can provide a powerful and thought-provoking exploration of the impact these conditions have on individuals and their loved ones.
Whether you are looking for an uplifting story or a more realistic portrayal, there is sure to be a movie that speaks to you.