As I witnessed the slow decline of my grandmother Rosette from Alzheimer’s disease, I realized with sorrow that there was no hope of a cure for her. She would spend the rest of her life in the prison of her deteriorating mind, freed only by her own passing. I had to accept the sad fact that there is no healing for anyone with this cruel disease, at least not yet. I began a determined journey to discover what was possible—to find what positive steps might indeed be taken to help her and others like her.
If you are reading this introduction, chances are that you too are facing a similar difficult life experience. You may have a family member or friend with Alzheimer’s disease or with another related dementia. You may be a caregiver in a nursing facility or at home. Hard as it has been, I now think of my own voyage facing my grandmother’s diagnosis, as a gift. I gratefully consider all that I have learned, the many amazing people I have met and worked with, and our collective accomplishments in developing MemoryLane. MemoryLane is not a cure, but it is a proven, effective method of palliative care. Our goal at MemoryLane is to share these findings with you, so all who need them may benefit from them.
As a filmmaker, I began creating and gathering moments on film for her that would honor her individuality, dignity, inner beauty, and rich life experience. I thought perhaps these films could provide her with a sense of purpose and meaning—or at least a soothing respite—even as the disease progressed. When I saw the positive effect these films had on my grandmother, I realized they might have much wider use.
To develop and test this idea, and to see it through to wide success with many patients and their caregivers, I have worked with an extraordinary, multidisciplinary group of dedicated colleagues. On this team are physicians, gerontologists, therapists, filmmakers, musicians, and specialists in the field of multisensory stimulation. In addition, many experts devoted to the care of Alzheimer’s patients have come on board to run trials at prestigious institutions, both in Europe and in the United States, and to offer invaluable suggestions that have helped to refine and improve MemoryLane. We have collaboratively pooled our vast and divergent areas of knowledge and pushed each other to think creatively, keep going, and remain always alert in the search for innovative solutions. The result is MemoryLane.
There is a future for people living with Alzheimer's disease and other related dementias and our duty is to continue to bring dignity to their lives. Like my beautiful grandmother, a person with dementia is first a person, with his or her own unique story. They still have a lot to share. With kindness, sensitivity, and the appropriate tools, we can reduce their stress and agitation. We can improve the quality of their lives and our own.
Alban Maino - Founder of Memory Lane
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