PBS (March 29, 2012): You're Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don't

Publication Date: 
Thu, 03/29/2012

In Danville, California, the Traditions Alzheimer's Care Unit houses 20 residents, most of who are shepherded by caregivers through scheduled activities like balloon baseball and bingo. For most residents, life is routine.

But for Lee Gorewitz, life is an odyssey.

From the moment she wakes up, Lee is on a quest for something that she can neither articulate nor comprehend. Confined by the limits of her physical boundaries, she scavenges for reminders of her old identity in the outside world.

A total immersion into the fragmented day-to-day experience of Alzheimer's disease, You're Looking at Me Like I Live Here and I Don't is the first documentary filmed exclusively in an Alzheimer's care unit, told from the perspective of someone suffering from the disease.

Lee's search is for more than a word, or a memory, or a familiar face. It is a quest for understanding. She wanders through her unit. She gazes through windows, examines other residents' rooms, and strains to see outside the front entrance.

She scours family photographs in her bedroom, unable to identify herself in the pictures. Combing through the items in her closet, she mistakes an everyday outfit for her wedding dress. She finds a birthday card but cannot recognize that she is the "Mom" to whom the card is addressed. Exasperated and missing her children, Lee embraces a make-believe family of stuffed animals.