I finally watched the movie Amour over the weekend.
It had been on my list of movies to rent for some time, ever since it won Best Foreign Language Film at the 2013 Academy Awards earlier this year.
Amour centers around Georges and Anne, a couple in their 80s, both retired music teachers, living in Paris. When Anne has a stroke and becomes paralyzed on the right side of her body, their relationship—and their relationship with their adult daughter—is severely tested.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie that depicts aging so soberingly and so bluntly, in moments both small and big. It moves slowly from scene to scene depicting everything from Anne trying to read in bed with only one working arm and hand, to a detached nurse tugging roughly at her hair while brushing it, to Georges feeding her food that has been pureed and helping her drink water through a sippy cup, to…well, I’m not going to give away any more.
A theme that pulses throughout Amour: Anne’s desire to stay in the apartment she shares with Georges. After being hospitalized following her first stroke, she asks him gravely to promise her that he will never, ever, take her to a hospital again.
Keeping Anne at home, as you can imagine, takes a good amount of home medical equipment. A manual wheelchair and then, when her condition deteriorates further, a power wheelchair. A bath bench for showering. An adjustable bed. Diapers.
When Anne asks Georges to promise her that he won’t take her to the hospital, he doesn’t answer her—he can’t. But it ends up being a promise that he accepts and keeps at all odds, despite the fatigue of being her main caregiver and despite the ill will it creates between him and his daughter.
This all makes me think of a special report in the October issue that discusses the need for the HME industry to better communicate its value to lawmakers and the public. Stakeholders believe home care is the trifecta of health care: it’s clinically sound, it’s patient-preferred and it’s cost-effective.
A movie like Amour helps give meaning to patient-preferred.