What Friday Night Lights Has Taught me about Dementia

MV5BMTYwNjIyMTYwOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTA2MDU1MQ@@._V1_SY317_CR12,0,214,317_As some of you may know, I’ve been on bed rest for the past month- which as allowed me lots of time to watch TV. One of the shows that several people recommended to me was Friday Night Lights- which is about high school football. Since I am long out of high school, and really don’t have a passion for football, I wasn’t sure what I would like about this show.

Well, let me tell you- this show is about a lot more than football, or high school, or anything even related to that. It’s a show about people- and their lives- however ordinary or mundane they are.

One character, in particular, has really touched my heart. His name is Matt, and while he is the quarterback of the football team, that has nothing to do with why I care about him so much. Matt’s dad is in Iraq, his mother is non existent and he lives with his grandmother who has dementia.

The portrayal of this sweet, young high school boy taking care of his grandmother is one that brings tears to my eyes. He dotes on her, loves her and cares for her in such a empathetic and loving manner that is beautiful to watch.

In one episode,  the Grandma has locked herself in the bathroom and is refusing to come out. She is hysterical, confused and is calling for her husband (who has been dead for several years).

Meanwhile, Matt, is out on a date with a new girl, and his best friend (Landry) is at the house watching over Grandma. Panicked, and unsure what to do- he calls Matt, who rushes home from his date (with the girl in tow).

He goes immediately to the bathroom door and pretends to be the husband. He deepens his voice and calls to her using the special nickname his grandparents used for one another.

The viewer watches as the Grandma visibly calms down, believing it’s her husband on the other side of the door. She even asks him to sing ‘their song’ so Matt starts singing Mr. Sandman and slowly and gently lures her out of the bathroom and then takes her into her room and helps get her settled into bed.

It is an incredibly poignant and touching scene- and one we can all learn from. Rather than get angry or frustrated with his grandmother, Matt meets her where she is. His patience, empathy and love show a great amount of respect for her- and this is something we can all aspire for when caring for a loved one.

* Friday Night Lights is available On Demand. The episode I refer to is from Season 1

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