A Quebec designer wants to revive memories buried under the heaviness of the disease in families who have to deal with Alzheimer's. Using images of historical events, family archives and significant music, Pierre Côté believes he is able to bring back, for a moment, the lost spark.
It was when he saw the look of his own mother, Denise Bouchard, change during the screening of a film he designed for his 84th birthday that Pierre Côté understood that he was holding something.
“I knew there had been things done, research on the impact of music or pictures on people with Alzheimer's. Like a romantic, I thought I was going to do it for my mother, ”he says of the 30 minute film he created for the woman who was diagnosed a little less than three years.
The result demonstrates the unlimited potential of the human brain, even altered by a disease that eats it up.
Get back to your old life
“She said things that really came from her unconscious, memories, it was impressive,” says with emotion the one who has worked in television in particular during his career.
Since the beginning of the process, still evolving, he has organized what he calls “working sessions” with his mother. Listening to music, broadcasting family slides, historical images, etc. Each time, he feels her come back to life.
Never for long, but these moments give her the impression that her mother is finding a little quality of life, of dignity; in short, a little of its place in the world.
A vintage photo of Mme Bouchard.
“The parallel can be funny, but it's like I'm saying 'come on Denise, we're going to have a line of coke'. It lasts 5-10-15-20 minutes, an hour and it falls again afterwards. But during this time, her face changes, I see her happy, we sing together, ”says Pierre Côté, moved when he talks about these moments.
“I see my mother dancing, singing with her sisters, I see my uncle and my aunt bawling, I am filled with joy, walking in the room, taking my mother in my arms”, adds- he, describing it all as a performance.
Share these moments
“I come to animate, to interact with the film. When Charles Trenet finishes singing, I thank him, I applaud and there, everyone embarks, my mother too. We find ourselves transported to 1962 in a Trenet show in Paris. This is what is happening ”.
What if what he created for his mother and which allowed him to immerse himself in his own history could help other families? The idea can “transcend the intimate experience” he believes.
“The evolution of the disease is exponential, it is degenerative. We haven't discovered anything yet to stop it. And the population is aging. Imagine that we are looking towards 2060, what do we do with all these people suffering from the disease, ”wonders the creator.
“I believe that it can offer a better quality of life and a certain way to overcome the disease in a temporary way each time”, explains Mr. Côté, who continues to develop his method, accompanied by his mother.