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A Look at Alzheimer’s Through the Eyes of a Nursing Home Resident

You're Looking At Me Like I Live Here And I Don't is a first-person account of Lee Gorewitz’s life inside the Traditions Alzheimer's & Other Dementia Care Unit at the Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living in Danville, CA. A total immersion into the fragmented day-to-day experience of the disease, the film reveals Gorewitz’s penetrating ruminations and charismatic vitality, shattering the preconceptions about Alzheimer’s disease and aging.

The Traditions Unit houses 20 residents, most of whom are shepherded by caregivers through scheduled activities such as balloon baseball and bingo. For them, life is routine. But for Gorewitz, life is an odyssey. From the moment she wakes up, Gorewitz wanders through the boundaries of the unit. Along her route, she gazes through windows, examines other residents’ rooms, and strains to see outside the front entrance. An enigmatic outsider, Gorewitz is on a quest for something that she can neither articulate nor comprehend; she is interested only in where her instincts guide her.

Widowed, cloistered, and slowly undone by her inability to think or speak clearly, Gorewitz has every reason to succumb to the expectations of her conditions. Instead, she defies despondency. When she breaks down, she rebuilds. When she loses words, she summons emotions. And, despite the small defeats of her efforts, she remains an exceptional and resilient soul.

Immersed in the confounding logic of Alzheimer’s, Gorewitz’s story adheres to the discordant but never fully crippling rhythms of the disease. Here is one extraordinary woman who will not let us forget her, even as she struggles to remember herself.

You're Looking At Me Like I Live Here And I Don't, a film by long-time elder activist Scott Kirschenbaum, will premiere on Independent Lens on March 29.

— Source: PBS