Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Drug company advertising is, well, advertising. They're trying to get me to prescribe something.

I see drug ads all the time as I flip through journals. I ignore them. Most are meaningless collections of graphics, charts, and small print. But occasionally one will catch my eye.

A few years back Novartis ran a campaign for their Alzheimer's medication. Normally I'd have ignored it and turned the page, but the pictures were powerful and I stopped.

They've since moved on to more typical campaigns, but this one shouldn't be forgotten, so I'm going to share it here today.

Think of how you treat the elderly. Because someday it will be you on the other side of the mirror. Your newborns and toddlers and teenagers will be there someday, too. And the fragile old man/woman in front of you today was once you.


Linda said...

Thank you for sharing this.

Heidi said...

Those are really lovely.

Mark p.s.2 said...

Losing your place in time (Alzheimer) is truly a horrible disease.

Anonymous said...

Powerful statements! I wish they would have these on television so more people would see them.

JFSinIL said...

I love these. Thank-you for sharing them.

Rachel said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing these- incredibly powerful!!

Anonymous said...

Oh my! Thank you for sharing these pictures. Brought tears to my eyes. ~~ Debbie

Karen G said...

Thank you for sharing this - I will pass it along to my daughter, who is a CNA in a nursing facility. It never hurts to have a reminder about what time can do to you.

Anonymous said...

Reminds ne of a line that I read in which the hero stated, as he was dying "Once I flew with eagles."

Eileen said...

To go with those wonderful images - I'm sure you must have seen one of the versions of this, sometimes it is a gentleman, sometimes a lady:

When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.
Later, when the nurses were going through his meager possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.

One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man's sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.

And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this 'anonymous' poem winging across the Internet.

Cranky Old Man

What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?
What are you thinking .. . when you're looking at me?
A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food .. . ... . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . .'I do wish you'd try!'
Who seems not to notice . . .the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . . . .. . . A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not . . . ... lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding . . . .The long day to fill?
Is that what you're thinking?. .Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .you're not looking at me.
I'll tell you who I am . . . . .. As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, .. . . . as I eat at your will.
I'm a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .. . . .. . who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen . . . .. with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now . . .. . . a lover he'll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty . . . heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now . . . . .I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . .. . . . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . .. With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me . . to see I don't mourn.
At Fifty, once more, .. ...Babies play 'round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me . . . . My wife is now dead.
I look at the future ... . . . . I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing .. . . young of their own.
And I think of the years . . . And the love that I've known.
I'm now an old man . . . . . . .. and nature is cruel.
It's jest to make old age . . . . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,
And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells
I remember the joys . . . . .. . I remember the pain.
And I'm loving and living . . . . . . . life over again.
I think of the years, all too few . . .. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.
Not a cranky old man .
Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. .... . ME!!

Remember this poem when you next meet an older person who you might brush aside without looking at the young soul within. We will all, one day, be there, too!

Don said...

I've lost both my parents in the last 3 years. When I went out to help my brother break up Mom's estate, I brought home a photo of the four of us; Mom, Dad, my brother and I. It was taken about 45 years ago, and shows all of us smiling. I keep it in my garage studio, and find myself looking at it often when I go out there to work on the models. Then, when I go inside for the night, I see my reflection in the bathroom mirror and see how much I've aged since that photo was taken. I miss Mom and Dad a lot, even as time diminishes the pain of their passing.
Mom had some kind of dementia the last few years, and went sharply downhill after Dad suddenly died, but on occasion was still sharp when I visited her a few months later. At times it was painful to watch her trying to remember people and events in our past. I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a few weeks with her, and say goodbye.
I have to go; it wouldn't be good to be seen here at work with tears in my eyes.
Thank you for sharing this, Dr. Grumpy. said...

I already knew those, but the campaign's images are as fantastic as they were the first time I saw them. Thanks for sharing!

Library-Gryffon said...

Whoever make those photos made works of art. I'd love to see more, and the enlarged collection as an exhibition.

Unknown said...

Lost my dad going on five years ago at the ripe age of ninety one. Those photos so reminded me of the anonymity we see the elderly with. We see old men and old women, not school teachers and doctors, lawyers and police, construction workers and seamstresses. Our society sees failing minds and not founts of wisdom. People to be ignored and not cherished. Thanks for posting these pictures.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't realized that they were ever part of a Novartis ad campaign. I'd read an article about them a year or two ago that never mentioned the Novartis collection.

Ms. Donna said...

Thank you. Should be required viewing for all. Wish they weren't just in a medical journal. All should see,

And remember some of your not-yet-elderly who have had illnesses/accidents that cause cognitive impairment are like that, too.

Now, like some of the other posters, off to cry.

clairesmum said...

When working with an elder, I often ask them what they did in their working years....or how they met their spouse...or where they were born and how they ended up in the current location...or if I had met the partner with dementia 15 years ago, who would I have met?
When that human connection happens, the loneliness of the elder is eased, at least for a while. i know i made a difference. that's what I get out of 'working with old people', as others label it.

Packer said...

My wife called to tell me that the sister of an acquaintance died the other night in her sleep, she was 65. I will be 65 this year, last night as I wearily pulled into the driveway and saw the snow needed to be shoveled I decided to have at it. My phone rang and a guy who just turned 50 invited me to go hiking with him on Sat., I decided to have at it. The Five Borough Bike Tour of NYC opens registration next week I was questioning if I should ride it again. I have decided to have at it. I too had looked in the mirror and I have seen that I too am getting no younger. Your point is well made Dr. G.

Sapphire said...

Lost my 96 year old dad to Alzheimer's just over two years ago, and I know he spent his last years living as if he were in his 30s or 40s. While it's devastating to us when the memories are lost and a parent no longer knows who we are, I looked for the blessings in Alzheimer's. My dad believed he was a young husband and father, and all his relatives were alive and well. When he would see a little girl playing, he would call her by my name and tell me about her - how cute and energetic she was and how he loved her. It was as if I were watching my childhood through my father's eyes, and it was beautiful.
I am so grateful that his mind took him to a happy time in his final years, and I know that when he looked in the mirror, he saw the young man he believed himself to be.
These lovely pictures capture the essence of our memories and identities. Thank you so much for sharing them, Dr. Grumpy.

Anonymous said...

Great adds. My grandma keeps begging to go home, but the home she remembers hasnt existed since 1942.. so sad

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. That's some good stuff. Took care of Dad with Dimentia for four years before he passed on. Can totally relate to what these portray. It is so, so debilitating. Hell, even I feel that way sometimes. We all had our moment. The wind down sucks.

lyndat. said...

This has made my heart melt. Pack er you keep on "having at it" Thanx Dr. G

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Dr. G. I'd have thought it would be an artist like Norman Rockwell that designed these pieces. It's my humble opinion, though, that with then entanglements within the brain, the person in the midst of Alzheimer's cannot 'see' these mirror images. The imagination is for guardian angels, and those that loved and cared for these individuals.

stacey said...

Along these lines:

A must watch. You can see it on netflix, youtube, etc..

Anonymous said...

The images gave me so many emotions but also made me think of this.
~Dance Like No One's Watching~

We convince ourselves that life
will be better after we get married,
have a baby, then another.
Then we are frustrated that the kids aren't old enough
and we'll be more content when they are.

After that we're frustrated that we
have teenagers to deal with,
we will certainly be happy
when they are out of that stage.

We tell ourselves that our life will be complete
when our spouse gets his or her act together,
when we get a nicer car,
are able to go on a nice vacation,
when we retire.
The truth is there's no better time
to be happy than right now.
If not now, when?

Your life will always be filled with challenges.
It's best to admit this to yourself
and decide to be happy anyway.
One of my favorite quotes comes
from Alfred D Souza.

He said, "For a long time it had seemed
to me that life was about to begin -real life.
But there was always some obstacle in the way,
something to be gotten through first,
some unfinished business,
time still to be served,
a debt to be paid. Then life would begin.
At last it dawned on me that these
obstacles were my life."

This perspective has helped me to see
that there is no way to happiness.
Happiness is the way,
so, treasure every moment that you have.
And treasure it more because you shared it
with someone special,
special enough to spend your time...
and remember that time waits for no one.

So stop waiting until you finish school,
until you go back to school,
until you lose ten pounds,
until you gain ten pounds,
until you have kids,
until your kids leave the house,
until you start work,
until you retire,
until you get married,
until you get divorced,
until Friday night,
until Sunday morning,
until you get a new car or home,
until your car or home is paid off,
until spring, until summer,
until fall, until winter,
until you are off welfare,
until the first or fifteenth,
until your song comes on,
until you've had a drink,
until you've sobered up,
until you die, until you are born again
to decide that there is no better time
than right now to be happy...
Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

So, Work like you don't need money.
Love like you've never been hurt and
Dance Like no one's watching.

~Author Unknown

Anonymous said...

When my grandma was well into her dimensia. I visited her after a business trip to Hawaii. I mentioned that I had visited Pearl Harbor, and she jolted like it was fresh news. These remind me so much of that sense that my grandma was displaced in time.

Anonymous said...

Same with my mother in law. She spent a lot of time in the past talking about her father. He was a fireman for the City of Seattle early in the 20th Century. She told how his job every morning was to exercise the horses. She told us about a house he built, we never knew he was also a carpenter. My oldest son has always been handy with tools, so we figure that's where he got his talent from. She told my husband where the fire station was that he worked out of and my husband, who worked for the transit system in Seattle, said that same station was where drivers could go in and use the restroom. When he was still driving bus, he didn't know that was where his grandfather had worked some fifty years before.

MA said...

Posted this on my little old blog which nobody reads :-) I also shared this on Facebook on a couple groups. A very powerful, touching message that should remind us that we too will grow old. Hopefully, we won't be forgotten and will be loved and cared for.

Anonymous said...

My sympathies go to everyone writing or reading who has lost or is losing a loved one to Alzheimer's or other form of dementia. It is a heartbreaking and cruel disease.

The series of photos is definitely evocative and a wonderful reminder of the opportunity to treat our elders with more respect, dignity, and kindness - as they are due.

My personal reaction, however, is different, and is based solely on the first picture. It perfectly describes my 85-year-old father-in-law (who doesn't have Alzheimer's). That image in the mirror - in his case, as a tank driver in Korea - is the one he has seen ever since the war. Nothing in his life could even compare to his years in the Marines; it was the high point of his existence, to the detriment of his late ex-wife and two children who were unable to know him as a person as a result of his fixation on this aspect of his identity.

So my take is that older people are people - and do deserve the respect, dignity, and kindness all of us deserve - but not all are fonts of wisdom or beloved, cherished, wise elders. They are, after all, just people, and in some cases they reap what they have sowed - as in my father-in-law's case.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous it's really hard dealing with aging parents, especially when they are diagnosed with Alzheimers. I suspect my Dad has Alzheimers, based on medication he was prescribed, and what I told by my mother before she died. My Dad has made some poor life choices and I can do nothing to help. It's very frustrating and sad.

Christine said...

Getting to this a little late, but this is a beautiful and touching ad campaign. It made me tear up a little bit. Thank you for sharing this.

Julie Andel said...

These pictures are amazing. It would be wonderful to find out who took the photos for this ad. Very powerful. Thanks for posting! Julie

Julie Andel said...

Just wanted to share the photographer who worked on this project.

Tom Hussey is an award-winning lifestyle advertising photographer based in Dallas, Texas. In a series entitled Reflections, Hussey shows a series of elderly people looking in a mirror at their younger self.
According to an interview with PetaPixel, the idea first struck when Hussey was talking to a WWII veteran named Gardner. On the cusp of his 80th birthday, Gardner opined that he still felt like a young man.
The conversation would inspire Hussey to photograph Gardner looking into a bathroom mirror with a reflection of his younger self looking back at him. The resulting image was used in his portfolio and years later was picked up by Novartis as the concept for an advertising campaign for their Alzheimer’s drug.
The resulting campaign was posted by Hussey to Behance back in 2009. Since then it has been the third most ‘appreciated’ project on the entire website, with nearly 71,000 ‘likes’ and 1.535 million views.

The photos are under lifestyle.


pharmacychick said...

beautiful pictures Grumpy!
Thanks for sharing. I wish i had a way to get them on Facebook.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the person who designed that ad campaign for Novartis is still employed there.

Petunia said...

I'm late in commenting on this, but thank you for posting. I volunteer at a hospice with my therapy dog, and once I finish nursing school, I want to be a hospice nurse. These photos show how I try to look at the patients and they were at their prime, and as people who made a lot of contributions to life and who have great stories to tell, even if they are no longer capable of telling them. Thank you for the photographic reminder.

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