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Two portrayals of dementia's effects

January 21, 2008

Marc Siegel's observations about the film "The Savages" reflect my own experience with a mother who died after a long and difficult battle with microinfarct dementia ["Movie's Details of Dementia Ring True," Jan. 14].

A few months earlier, the movie "Away From Her" presented a romanticized picture of a woman who had been placed in a fictional care facility that offered her a large, private, well-appointed room. It made no reference to incontinence, mood swings, others in the facility with devastating physical and mental impairments, nor the medical complications associated with the condition.

My once-beautiful mother lost the ability to function in any meaningful way, including being unable to form words, long before she died.

"The Savages" left me in tears because of its truthful portrayal of a horrible illness. "Away From Her" left me angry because of its deceptive glamorizing of the same misery.

Barbara H. Bergen

Los Angeles

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