Tania Ku’s documentary short focuses on Lior Tsarfaty, an Israeli-born singer/songwriter who offers music therapy sessions for Alzheimer’s patients at San Francisco-area memory care facilities. Arriving with a guitar and a suitcase full of instruments, he quickly brings his audience into a circle of music-minded participants, with exercises ranging from Native American-style tribal drumming to a sing-along of old favorites like “You Are My Sunshine.”
Hannah Reimann’s nonfiction short is a video diary of the final four years in the life of her father, Dr. Peter Reimann, whose life was slowly weakened by dementia.
The German-born Dr. Reimann served as a medic in the German Army during World War II – the film briefly states he was anti-Nazi, but never goes into depth on his war record. He married Korean psychoanalyst Dr. Myunghee Kim in 1957, eventually settling in New Jersey. Dr. Kim’s death in a car accident during a 1996 vacation in Chile was an emotional loss from which Dr. Reimann never truly recovered, and the sense of melancholy resonates throughout his on-camera footage. When asked during a birthday what it means to turn 89, he responds, “You didn’t die at the right time.”
Elizabeth Arledge’s PBS-aired documentary offers a snapshot on the impact that Alzheimer’s disease has on the national economy and individual families. According to the medical professionals interviewed here, the near-future costs of Alzheimer’s care threaten to bankrupt both Medicare and Medicaid while rivaling the Department of Defense’s budget for the sheer level of spending. This is because there has been no breakthrough in Alzheimer’s treatments – unlike heart disease, cancer or HIV/AIDS, nobody can survive this disease once it begins to take its lethal toll – but federal spending on research for the disease is much smaller compared to other medical categories.