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Tv Review : Documentary Looks At Alzheimer Care Givers

August 22, 1986|LEE MARGULIES | Times Staff Writer

You're not likely to see anything more touching on TV this year than 75-year-old Junia Gideon bravely caring for her incapacitated husband in "I Forgot to Say Goodbye," an hourlong documentary on KNBC Channel 4 at 10 tonight.

She helps him out of bed, takes him to the bathroom, gets him dressed. Her emotions under tight control, she's all business as she struggles to get him through a day. But watch how easily she cracks when he unexpectedly mutters, "I love you."

Odos Gideon has Alzheimer's disease.

The devastating toll that this mysterious, incurable brain illness takes on both victims and their families is graphically illustrated in this program, which is hosted by Steve Allen and was produced, directed and written by Philip Reeder.

Alzheimer's destroys the gray matter of the brain, plunging its victims on a path of mental and physical regression that ultimately can leave them without memory, speech or motor skills, requiring either constant care by loved ones or institutionalization, at great expense that often is not covered by insurance.

"It's just a nightmare that continues--and gets worse," says the wife of another victim.

Thanks to the openness of his subjects, Reeder effectively captures a slice of these people's unfortunate reality, demonstrating why it is that the experts say more should be done for them in the way of financial and emotional support.

Undermining the effort, however, is the intrusive, manipulative use of music, as if viewers might not be moved by the images themselves. It has the opposite effect of what is intended, trivializing the material to the level of TV entertainment. Violins don't underscore real life.

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