Louis Theroux’s documentary ‘Extreme Love’ aired on BBC Two last night looked to the lives of people who are living dementia. Working in an industry which deals primarily with elderly people I understand how dementia can change lives, not only for sufferers but also carers, and feel that Louis Theroux’s documentary gave a touching insight into the reality of dementia.
Louis visited families in America who were affected by dementia. Interestingly he met a variety of people all of whom were at different stages of the disease and relied on care in one form or another.
First was Gary, a 69 year old former dentist living in a care home. Although his memory would come and go, Garry didn’t remember his wife as his spouse. Instead he thought she was a former colleague which was incredibly difficult to watch but illustrated the reality of how much of an impact dementia has on everyone involved.
Across town Louis meet up with one of the most surprising cases for me, Selinda, a 49 year old mother to her 9 year old daughter. Although Selinda looked incredibly happy and healthy her dementia was progressively getting worse and will almost certainly lead to her having little or no memory of her family.
While the documentary sensitively caught the sad truth of dementia it also captured some fantastic moments which leads me to 89 year old Nancy, a charming lady with Alzheimer’s who is looked after by her husband John.
Although in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s and clearly forgetful and confused at times, Nancy was a joy to watch. Funny, charismatic and loving she and Louis appeared to have formed a real bond which was lovely to watch and probably why the programmed proved to be so poignant; maybe one of Louis Theroux’s most affecting pieces yet.
A real rollercoaster ride which gives a true insight into dementia definitely one to watch- catch up on BBC iPlayer now.by