Rise of the Planet of the Apes Film Spotlights Alzheimer's Disease

Rise of the Planet of the Apes has critics divided in their reviews. For me, more honestly disturbing than the images of an ape overthrow is the movie’s depiction of the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease.

John Lithgow gives a moving performance as genetic scientist Will Rodman’s afflicted father. James Franco is at his most real when interacting with Lithgow—portraying a son’s desperate attempts to return his father to the man he once was, and the painful realization that he cannot. Says Franco of his character, “His father Charles is suffering from dementia so he moves into his father’s house, which was once Will’s childhood home, to take care of him. Being a caregiver is a role Will has never had to perform before.” The film truthfully conveys the immense frustration experienced by both patient and caregiver.

Of course, the movie also gives us villainous Gen-Sys, a large pharmaceutical corporation that’s more interested in turning profit than developing a cure.

Perhaps the proactive movement toward Alzheimer’s and dementia prevention is prescient. While researchers continue to “race toward the cure” (with better results than the movie’s, one hopes,) there is a growing focus on risk reduction and brain protection.

Guest blogger and Geriatric Care Manager Charlotte Bishop neatly summarizes University of California, San Francisco’s report on possible Alzheimer’s reduction in her latest blog Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease?  Proponents say that by leading a brain-healthy lifestyle, you may even be able to prevent the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

I hope this movie helps bring Alzheimer’s and dementia into the popular discussion. Charlton Heston, star of the first Planet of the Apes movie, himself suffered symptoms of the disease. And although Lithgow’s depiction is heart-rending, it cannot truly impart the relentless daily battle faced by those affected.

Caregiverlist has partnered with Terra Nova Films to provide training videos to support caring for seniors with memory loss, including Alzheimer's Disease.

Until a real cure is found, prevention and successful caregiving are the most effective tools we can use.

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Comments (2) -

  • Robin Luntz

    8/10/2011 12:57:40 PM | Reply

    This sounds like a good film - thank you for sharing - this is ironic that Charleton Heston also had memory loss and what a good film for senior caregivers to see.

  • Thousand Oaks elderly care

    8/16/2011 11:47:59 AM | Reply

    Indeed those seniors afflicted with Alzheimer's together with their families are pitiful. Pitiful in way that they family have to shower with constant love, care and understanding.


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