First, the plot of the movie The Notebook and the main character(s) involved will be described. Also, why this movie was chosen and how it illustrates the memory effect of interest will be explained. Second, three scholarly articles that relate to the memory issue in The Notebook will be used to explain what was learned about how memory functions. Next, what was realistic and inaccurate about the presentation of the movie on the memory issue and what change would have made it more accurate will be described along with identifying what type of memory system was dealt with in the movie. Finally, what is known about the memory condition seen in the movie and what problems have yet to be researched will be described.
The Notebook Summarized
The Notebook is a love story about the unconditional love of a man for his wife. An elderly man named Noah reads to his wife Allie day after day from his old journal. Noah reads to Allie because he is confident doing so will trigger old memories. Allie has dementia, her memory has faded so that she can no longer recognize her husband (Noah), children, and grandchildren. Even though the type of dementia Allie has is never defined in the movie it can be assumed, from the way she is portrayed in the movie, she has Alzheimer’s. Allie having dementia (Alzheimer’s) is why The Notebook was chosen. Working in a nursing home/assisted living since the age of sixteen and having a grandfather who passed away from Alzheimer’s makes this movie an appropriate choice.
Simple put dementia is the weakening/loss of brain functions like memory and judgment (Cunningham, McGuinness, Herron, Passmore, 2015). To be defined as dementia it must be clinically diagnosed which can be hard to do and is time-consuming. Diagnosis requires history taking of the patient with help from the patient and their primary doctor, valuation of symptoms, and neuropsychological testing (Scheltens, Kaj, Monique, De Strooper, Frisoni, Giovanni, . . . Wiesje Maria, 2016). Dementia is categorized as early-onset which is diagnosed at age sixty-five and younger or as late-onset which is diagnosed at older than sixty-five years of age (Cunningham, 2015). The occurrence of dementia rises with age interfering with everyday functions making the person more physically, mentally, and socially dependent on others (Strandroos, Antelius, 2016). The main risk factor for dementia is aging with some other risk factors being obesity, alcohol abuse, hypertension, smoking, and depression (Cunningham, 2015). Some preventative factors for dementia include regular exercise, healthy diet, and moderate alcohol intake (Cunningham, 2015). Dementia can be due to many repressed pathophysiological processes (Cunningham, 2015), the most common cause being Alzheimer’s disease (Scheltens, 2016). Most forms of dementia include a pathological buildup of a native protein (Cunningham, 2015). With Alzheimer’s the pathological buildup is “of abnormally folded A? and tau proteins in amyloid plaques and neuronal tangles” (Scheltens, 2016, page 508).
Memory involves encoding, storing, and retrieving. To form a memory gathered information must be changed so it is usable; this is called encoding. Once the information has been encoded it is stored away until it needs to be retrieved for later use (Koriat, Goldsmith, Pansky, 2000). In their own way, the articles read were helpful in learning about how memory functions. The articles covered how memory functions are affected by age. They also discussed risk and preventive factors for dementia and causes of age-related diseases which affect memory. Memory is a necessary means which is used by every person to lure past experiences and use in the present.
The Notebook’s Presentation
It is felt from a personal perspective that the movie did a respectable job of portraying what it is like to have dementia in real life. In the movie, Allie experiences trouble with both short-term and long-term memory loss. Predicted due to her death within the movie’s time frame Allie is in the late stages of Alzheimer’s. This is accurate as it relates to Alzheimer’s disease which begins with the loss of short-term memory and progresses towards long-term memory loss in late stages of the disease (Scheltens, 2016). The movie is also accurate in showing the difficulties and burdens dementia has on patients and family members. Difficulties for the patient include loss of independence in activities of daily living (ADL’s) such as eating, dressing, and communicating (Strandroos, 2016). It is also difficult for family when a family member or members are away from home living at a care facility (Strandroos, 2016). This is shown/expressed in the movie when Noah’s and Allie’s children voice their opinion to their father about him coming home because they miss him, but he insists he needs to stay with their mother. The movie shows Allie being agitated at times and it shows her having good days at times which is common with dementia, but one part towards the end of the movie showing Allie having a moment of complete clarity of thought/memory with Noah is inaccurate with Alzheimer’s disease, especially towards the end of one’s life living with the disease (late stage) like Allie (Scheltens, 2016). As previously stated, the movie did a respectable job of representing dementia (Alzheimer’s disease). It does not seem that anything which occurred during the movie would need to be changed. The inaccurate part of Allie’s moment of clarity is not one hundred percent impossible and it is a great part of the movie making one feel emotionally connected to the main characters. Semantic and episodic memory also characterized as declarative memory deal with questions of “what, where, who, when” and people with Alzheimer’s have issues with this. Procedural memory deals with how to do things and people with Alzheimer’s usually keep the basics of this but parts of this still do fail. It has been known that behavior skills can be retaught by using one’s procedural memory. Knowing what the above memory systems consist of it can be said that all memory systems were dealt with/touched on in The Notebook.
More than ninety-seven percent of people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease are diagnosed with late-onset (Cunningham, 2015). Doctors are trying to diagnose the disease early enough, so different pharmacological and non-pharmacological methods can be used on people with early onset Alzheimer’s. Identifying early onset is difficult because cognitive decline and pathophysiological issues occur naturally with aging (Cunningham, 2015). By the time diagnosis is recognized, predictive measures are required and are lacking as disease trajectories vary a lot amongst individuals (Cunningham, 2015). Although a lot is known about Alzheimer’s like a variety of brain abnormalities caused by Alzheimer’s and some preventive and risk factors an exact cause and cure for Alzheimer’s disease is still unknown, people worldwide are working hard daily to try and advance Alzheimer’s drugs, care techniques, and someday find a cure.
The Notebook is a love story about the unconditional love of a man for his wife. Dementia is the weakening/loss of brain functions like memory and judgment (Cunningham, 2015). Dementia can be due to many repressed pathophysiological processes (Cunningham, 2015), the most common cause being Alzheimer’s disease (Scheltens, 2016). The movie did a respectable job of portraying what it is like to have dementia in real life. Most of what the movie portrayed on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease was accurate, but a moment of clarity towards the end showed inaccuracy.