If you’ve known someone who has suffered from Alzheimers or dementia, you’ll understand what a difficult, debilitating and demoralising disease it can be. Personally, it’s watching a loved one slowly lose their sense of identity which I find the hardest. With life expectancy continually rising, more and more people will fall prey to this condition. At the same time, social care is crumbling under the sheer weight of numbers, lack of funding and inability to employ enough qualified staff.
One alternative is to look for services and support away from our shores. MOTHER, the new documentary from Kristof Bilsen, focuses on a home in Thailand which specialises in providing care to Westerners. One of the caregivers, Pomm, has made the difficult choice to leave her own family in order to help others through the final stages of their lives. Maya is a new patient from Switzerland who arrives with her family to spend their last days together.
On the face of it, sending relatives abroad to live-out the last years of their lives amongst strangers feels profoundly wrong. However, when you look at the cost and quality of the alternatives available in Europe, it’s easy to see why some families would make this difficult decision. Many of the carers also have the make an equally painful choice. Filmed over a period of three years, MOTHER provides a powerful insight into the ethical and moral considerations around ‘outsourcing’ care.
The world premiere of MOTHER takes place at Sheffield Doc/Fest on 9 June. The film also screens on 11 June.