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How "This is Us" Showed the Realities of Memory Care

It’s an end of an era as the world watched the Pearson family conclude their six-season journey on This is Us, the NBC television drama series that debuted in 2016.

The show’s quality writing has provided the ability to show life in review, telling relatable stories that starts with us taking care of our children and ends with those kids taking care of us. It captured life's most joyous and challenging life transitions. 

One of those challenging life transitions was watching how Rebecca Pearson, the beloved matriarch of the family, slowly regressed after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

Patience and flexibility are essential when caring for someone with memory loss and other cognitive impairments. The caregiver must adapt to meet the person's needs as they lose their ability to remember, reason, and communicate. We saw this conveyed beautifully as the "Big Three" children of Rebecca - Kevin, Kate, and Randall navigated their mother's care as her abilities declined, especially after the death of her husband Miguel. 

The show has received praise and positive reviews for its accurate portrayal of an individual struggling with Alzheimer’s.  Caregivers at Elderwood, a leading provider of senior memory care services in New York, Rhode Island and Vermont use a variety of tools, many of which we’ve seen in the show, from the clinical and strategic to the physical and technological.

Some elements of Elderwood’s Seasons Memory Care® that we’ve seen playout in the show include items within our Sensory Balance Program. Weighted objects, particularly electronic dogs and cats, along with weighted baby dolls, are very helpful tools in Elderwood’s memory care units.

In the show, we see Kate explaining to her brothers how an electronic cat she got their mom helps fulfill a sense of purpose. “It brings them back to a time where they could take care of something,” she explains.

Music is also crucial and powerful with memory care. Music has always been important to Rebecca, having aspired to be a singer when she was younger. Her children have seen the importance of the outlet throughout their whole lives with her. When Kate asks her to perform at her wedding nerves begin to set in for fear that she may not be able to remember or perform on the day of the wedding.

Songs and rhythm can help those with Alzheimer’s with memory recall.  Because songs are formatted with repetition and catchy lyrics, they can bring back memories and help patients remember. We saw that in the show when Rebecca sat down and after pausing for a period where we didn’t think she’d remember, she was able to perform an emotional performance of the show’s theme song The Forever Now.

As the series draws to a conclusion, it has meant a lot to people to witness a very relatable story of illness and how it impacts families. The end can be sad, but as William says, “If something makes you sad when it ends, it must’ve been pretty wonderful when it was happening.”

For more information on memory care services to preserve your loved one’s quality of life, click here.



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