Follow the five steps below to get the most out of your UnLonely Film Festival experience!
Step 1: Watch the film.
A diverse group of health aides gains knowledge and insight in a workshop on dementia care. We gain an appreciation of the tremendous compassion and patience they bring to their work with those who have lost so much and who present tremendous challenges to their helpers as a result.
About the FIlmmaker
Naomi Boak is a Primetime Emmy Award-winning executive producer & director. She served on the national production team at Twin Cities Public Television (TPT) and her current media work includes helping corporations and non-profits tell their stories. For many years, Naomi has worked with her Labrador Retrievers as a therapy dog team. They have accompanied grieving families to Ground Zero immediately following 9/11 and helped children with cerebral palsy work toward therapeutic goals.
Did you set out to explore loneliness in your film and if so, what prompted this focus?
“Dementia is a lonely disease. Caring for someone with dementia is a lonely job. Everyone here is isolated. The loneliness of dementia can disappear at times with a great caregiver, professional or family. When my father with Alzheimer’s disease was in a nursing home, he would light up when his health aide entered the room. Her kindness and care broke through the disconnection created by the disease. And his love for her made her happy, too. Their 5-year caring relationship inspired this story.”
Did any of your viewers give you feedback that reflected this aspect of your film?
“The health aides often expressed love for those they cared for. And families of those with dementia told me about the loving connections between health aides and their family member with dementia.”
What do you hope UnLonely Film Festival audiences, trying to make sense of loneliness and isolation and navigate a path forward, take from your film?
“Open your heart to the great health aides who make life worth living for your loved ones with dementia. And live in the moment with your loved one and the joy of love and connection can happen — not all the time — but it is there.”
Step 2: Explore these things after watching the film.
- As seen in the film, there is a uniquely intimate relationship between care provider, the one receiving care, and their family members. The husband interviewed in the film describes the care providers as “truly heroic” and described the caretakers as having an “incredible generosity of spirit and patience and love.” Did you relate more to the role of the care provider or the one receiving care or the family of the one receiving care? Of the three roles, which do you think is the most difficult role to be in? And what do you think would make that role more manageable?
- The film focused a lot on the dementia care training the home care providers received, with an emphasis on understanding the patients and figuring out how best to communicate with them. In your professional or personal life, have you been to any training focusing largely on communication? How was it helpful or, if you haven’t experienced this, how do you imagine it could be helpful to you?
- In the film, the group of home care providers was seen singing together to learn some of the songs that their patients might be familiar with. It also appeared to provide them with moments of joy and connection. If you are a caregiver for someone, what activity might you incorporate during the periods of caregiving that would offer that joy and connection?
- Try the star exercise! First, take a ruler and draw a 5-point star with 3” vertices. Then use the ruler to draw a smaller star with 2” vertices inside the larger star. Then follow the instructions from the film: “Put your pen on the paper and draw a line between the two stars [all the way around], without picking up your pen. Just do it and be quiet enough to listen to how you feel.” Now try it again on top of the same star, but this time, do the same task while looking in the mirror. How did it make you feel?
- Sing a song from your past in its entirety (pull up lyrics from the Internet if needed). How did it feel? Now sing it again with the people in your day-to-day life. If possible, try to sing the song with someone who you don’t feel as connected to you as you’d like—maybe you’ve had trouble communicating or just haven’t spent enough time together lately. If you are unable to be in the same room with this person, you can send them the lyrics and ask them to sing it on the phone with you.
- Share a piece of artwork with an older person you know or someone who has taken care of you. Draw a special memory you have of the person—perhaps doing an activity they used to enjoy or of a special event, you remember. Don’t worry about the likeness of the portrait—as more realistic representations, such as photographs, can sometimes be upsetting to those suffering from dementia when they don’t recognize the people portrayed. If you are sending artwork to someone who has provided care to you, consider following the example in the film and send a pair of ‘fairy wings’, which the graduates received at their graduation celebration. You can search for free tutorials online, but basically, you fold your paper (tissue, construction, or fabric) in half, draw the outline of a set of wings—resembling butterfly wings if you like and then cut out–making sure you don’t cut along the fold. Open the paper to reveal a full set of fairy wings and then design/decorate as you see fit with color (markers, pencils, etc.) and texture (collage: gluing on different kinds of paper or fabric). Consider including certain drawn or collaged images that capture the kind of care they provided to you.
Our Try This page has even more creative expression inspiration!
Step 3: Join in the conversation about the film.
Your Support Helps!
We’re a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.