My name is John. I work at a nursing home for the elderly. With an average age of 80, residents spend their twilight years in quiet comfort. But unfortunately, many are now living with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. In the year that I have been working with them, a new treatment* has kept the residents busy. Evelyn, 94, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease more than two years ago. At first she could not write her own name and had difficulty communicating, but four months into the treatment, she has rediscovered her interest in knitting. Still without a cure, Alzheimer's disease robs its victims of their memory, their pride, and at times even their will to live. But what if simple reading, writing and calculating could counteract some of the effects of this disease? This documentary follows a research study of a treatment in Cleveland, Ohio. It pursues the answers to what it means to live a happy life, and what may be considered a truly happy conclusion to that life.
*The six-month-long treatment put into action is the fruit of the cooperative research of Dr. Kawashima and KUMON. It was developed in Japan in over a decade of practical application in collaboration with professional caregivers at care facilities. Sessions take place every day for 30 minutes. They consist of short reading and writing exercises and simple arithmetic questions, all administered in a conversational manner by facility staff. In 2011, 23 live-in residents with dementia participated in the treatment at the Eliza Jennings Home in Cleveland. This was the first trial of the program outside of Japan.