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Scatterbrained Senior

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"Huh?! What trope did you say this was?"

"Have you ever known someone with Alzheimer's? If he could actually recognize you as his daughter and not his wife as he regresses further and further back, he was doing really fucking good. Trust me. I've known people with Alzheimer's."

It's a sad fact that as we get older, a lot of cognitive impairment can come along for the ride. Alzheimer's Disease, senile dementia, and more. There are many issues that can strike in old age, but it's usually easier for writers to just make old people forgetful. It should be noted that not everything going on inside the brain is a disease or a syndrome; sometimes the machinery just wears out, and sometimes people are just absentminded. And sometimes, they're on medications (or medications that interact with other medications they're taking) that make them loopy.

You can usually expect this to be played for pathos, as Grandma or Grandpa rages against the loss of their faculties and their family has to watch the person they love die by inches (not for nothing is Alzheimer's called "The Long Goodbye").

However, sometimes it's given a more immediate urgency, as when the person has forgotten some piece of information vital to saving the world or doesn't remember that he's an aged, ass-kicking hero with at least one more good fight in him. In this case, you can probably expect a variant of Easy Amnesia, if only temporarily.

Sometimes though, this trope can be downplayed, as Granny's memory is just shown to be faded, but has no real bearing on the plot, and can usually be used for a cheap laugh. Sometimes seniors take advantage of others' expectations and feign this as a form of Obfuscating Stupidity. Compare Grandparental Obliviousness and The Fog of Ages.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • During the final arc of Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, it's revealed that Gan'an Shinomiya is suffering from dementia due to a stroke he had the previous fall. And while he still has periods of lucidity, he notes that Shirogane's plan to save Kaguya from her Arranged Marriage by having him alter his will is doomed to failure since any further alterations wouldn't hold up in court.
  • Wandering Girl Nell: A tragic example with Mr. Trent. He's an old man who made a series of terrible financial decisions, but it was because he's the sole parent of his granddaughter Nell and wants her to have a life where all her needs are met, going as far as to get into gambling to try and provide for her.

    Comic Books 
  • It was implied that Aunt May was a little senile in the early days of Spider-Man. Characterization Marches On and this is no longer the case (now she's sometimes more aware than Peter himself).
  • In Brightest Day, the newly-resurrected Martian Manhunter tracks down Melissa Erdel, the daughter of the scientist who brought him to Earth, in hopes of learning more about the late Dr. Erdel's research. Unfortunately for him, Melissa is now an old woman whose memory is failing her, no thanks to a chunk of machinery stuck in her brain from the accident that brought J'onn to Earth, but she does remember enough to recall that J'onn wasn't the only Martian that she and her father managed to summon. At the conclusion of the story, J'onn is able to use his intangibility to remove the shrapnel from her head, helping clear up some of her memory issues.
  • King Thor: As an Elderly Immortal, Lord Librarian Shadrak's mind isn't as sharp as it once was and it takes him a while to even remember what he used to be the god of.
  • Sunny Side Up: One of the residents, Myra, is 98 years old and forgetful, and Sunny and Buzz are recruited to find her when she's wandered off again. Sunny finds her sitting on a bench waiting to go back to Hoboken, New Jersey, where she says her late husband Mickey will be waiting for her. She's sad to be reminded she lives in Florida now.
  • X-Factor (2006): The elderly Doctor Doom of Bishop's future is suffering from severe dementia. He's well aware of his condition, admitting he has good days and bad days, and even on his good days, he's not entirely lucid (addressing Cyclops as "Mr. Clops", for example). Of course, his skill with technology is just as good as ever, even on his bad days.
  • The Boys: The Herogasm miniseries features an elderly supe named Uncle Dreams, who holds racist views while also having memory problems and being incontinent.

    Fan Works 
  • A Green Christmas: Implied with the Professor's unseen father, because he forgets to add a head hole to Buttercup's sweater.
  • The Bolt Chronicles: In "The Spaceship," Rhino has bouts of advanced-age cognitive impairment, at times suffering from paranoia, anger, and delusions.
  • In Johanna Mason: They Will Never See Me Cry, Flora, District 11's oldest victor, runs into Johanna during the 73rd Hunger Games. Flora thinks that she's mentoring for the 71st Hunger Games (Johanna's Games) and expresses happy surprise that Johanna won, before remembering that if Johanna won, then the two District 11 tributes that year who she thinks she's still mentoring didn't.
  • The Hunger Games fan fiction one-shot "Any Last Words" by Seta Suzume casts Woof in this role (like in the books). During the interviews, Woof can't remember what year it is, who's about to be sent into the arena, or whether his old mentor is still alive.
    Woof: Who's my tribute this year?
    Caesar: You've switched places, Woof. You're the tribute and Miranda is mentoring you.
    Woof: But Miranda's going to be killer with a razor.
    Caesar: And she was, Woof. But that was over forty years ago.
  • Miraculous: The Phoenix Rises gives us Mayor Joe Biden a constantly stuttering, attention deficit Cloud Cuckoo Lander who forgets his script every three words.
  • Yugi's Grandpa from Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series is very senile, as he often babbles random nonsense, is almost completely oblivious of his surroundings, and forgets he even has a grandson.
    Rebecca: (in regards to a story Grandpa just told) I am so sick of your lying lies, you big fat liar!
    Tea: Shut up, you hussy! Yugi's grandpa would never lie! He's the wisest man I've ever met!
    Grandpa: Where am I? What day is it? I like pudding.

    Films — Animated 
  • Downplayed with Malcolm from Arthur Christmas; he has shades of this trope, since he tends to be forgetful and wants to keep being the current Santa Claus despite obviously not being fit for the position anymore, having become little more than a figurehead while his son Steve and the elves do most of the work on Christmas Eve. It's later revealed that he's well aware he's getting too old to be Santa, but doesn't want to let go of the position since he doesn't know who he'd be if he retired.
  • Mama Coco in Coco is a sympathetically portrayed example. She very obviously has some kind of dementia, since she's very old (she's Miguel's great-grandmother), struggles to tell her family members apart, and is mired in the memories of her Disappeared Dad, whom she still thinks will come back to her despite being long dead. This is actually a plot point since she is the only one who actually still remembers Héctor, but her memories of him are slipping, meaning that it's only a matter of time before he disappears from the Land of the Dead due to being forgotten. However, in the end, once Miguel plays "Remember Me" for her, she remembers everything about Héctor and is for a while more lucid than she has been in the entire film.
  • Little Angels: The Brightest Christmas: Daniel seeks shelter in a cabin owned by an old man named Zeke Eaterman, who initially took Daniel for a salesman and his dog for a horse, and rambled on while Daniel tried to set him straight. Then, when Daniel asks for the phone, he excitedly points it out to him, only to then mention that the phone isn't plugged into anything.
  • The Super Mario Bros. Movie: Mario and Luigi's grandfather doesn't seem to be all there anymore, needing to be fork-fed, biting into the fork despite the spaghetti already having fallen off of it and not showing any hint of interest in the dinner conversation.
  • King Thrash from Trolls World Tour exhibits forgetfulness that suggests the onset of senility.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A Wedding (1978): The bishop who marries Dino and Muffin is twenty-five years older than the groom's grandmother, an old friend of his. He has to read cue cards during the ceremony and can't remember whether it's the bride or the groom who's related to his old friend. He can't even remember how many years he's been semi-retired for.
  • Angelo Ledda in The Alzheimer's Case, who is trying to do One Last Job while his memory is starting to fade.
  • The film Still Alice is about a middle-aged woman who suffers the onset of Alzheimer's.
  • Buffaloed: Peg collects a large debt from an old lady with memory problems. It is later revealed that the men at the debt collection agency have been "collecting" that debt for twenty years because of this.
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes: The development of the virus that would lead to intelligent apes and the pandemic that would dethrone humanity was originally designed to treat Alzheimer's.
  • Mars Attacks!. Richie's grandmother calls both of her grandsons (Richie and Billy Glen) "Thomas".
  • Friends with Benefits, the movie is pretty lighthearted, if not a bit raunchy, up until Dylan's father is introduced, who is clearly suffering from memory loss. The Death Cab for Cutie song "Follow You Into the Dark" is played during this scene, which doesn't help matters. Another scene has his father panic while out at dinner when he wonders why his ex-wife isn't coming to dinner with him. At the end of the film, one of his memory lapses prompts him to advise Dylan to patch things up with Jamie, as the former cites an example of a woman he himself let go of.
  • Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers portrays King Theoden this way, sort of. He may be possessed by Saruman rather than just corrupted by Wormtongue's influence, but everyone assumes it's old age robbing him of vitality (to say nothing of grief caused by his only son and heir being killed). Particularly apparent when Gandalf removes the corruption/possession and all of a sudden he looks twenty years younger.
  • One of the elderly Lost Boys in Hook has "lost his marbles". Literally and figuratively. He finds them by the end of the movie, though.
  • In Spider-Man: No Way Home, when Peter first encounters Norman, the horrors of being enslaved and dominated by the Goblin personality, and the shock of learning he and his son Harry do not exist in this world, give Norman the appearance of an elderly, senile homeless man trying to escape an abuser. It's his helplessness that convinces May to urge Peter to help the misplaced villains, and, much like other dementia patients having greater faculty in familiar places, Norman's scientific prowess begins to return when he's working in the lab again. Though he seems to make strides towards returning to his old self, it turns out to just be the Goblin toying with him, and the murder of May leaves Osborn a traumatized wreck at the end.
    May: He's lost. And I don't mean just in the cosmos, I mean in his mind.
  • In Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, Jetfire, a decayed ancient robot, is less forgetful and more completely batshit insane. He changes subject back-and-forth at a incomprehensible pace, forgets to mention crucial detail (such as when he teleports everyone to Egypt without a warning), and seems to be overall a bit clueless. His memory in specific, though, is very good: One of his main roles is explaining a lot of ancient history nobody else but him knows.
  • The present-day story in The Notebook has an elderly Noah reading the titular book to his wife Allie, whose memory has faded. She has a few moments of lucidity, but they come and go in waves. Her last moment of lucidity results in her and Noah peacefully dying in their sleep.
  • Max's mother in The Cobbler, obviously suffers from senile dementia. In one scene Max finds her purse in the microwave.
  • Sir Graham in Mortdecai, who seems to be having a bad case of dementia and forgets things every ten seconds or so.
  • Professor Xavier in Logan suffers from a degenerative brain disease that's affected his memory, as he doesn't seem to recognize Logan when he's first introduced and rambled about random things and has also affected his control over his telepathy as when he has a seizure, he can freeze hundreds of people if they're in range to the point harming them and possibly killing them, as it's implied this is how the X-Men died.
  • The Dresser: Played very tragically with Sir, the leading man of a troupe of Shakespearean actors. He is unable to remember lines or even remember what play they're doing. He also has wild emotional outbursts in public, as well as occasionally slipping into near-catatonia.
  • Aunt Emily in What a Carve Up!. She says she is knitting balaclavas for the boys in the trenches. When Syd says she's a bit late for that she responds "Of course not. It only started in 1914". (The film is set in 1961). She also thinks George Bernard Shaw is alive and offers to introduce Ernie to him, and cannot keep track of who is alive and who is dead.
  • Discussed in Waiting... when Monty meets an elderly man who claims that it's great at his age to be able to wander around in your underwear and flip off children because everyone just assumes he's senile, but then laments that he doesn't always realize he's doing it until someone slaps him which means he really is becoming senile. Later, Monty excitedly remarks that he's the coolest old guy he's ever met.
  • The Spirit of '76: Dr. Von Mobil, the one man old enough to remember what life was like before the magnetic storm that degaussed all recorded history, is barely capable of stringing a sentence together and confuses the Preamble to the Constitution with the Miranda Rights.
  • In On Golden Pond, Norman has trouble remembering people in old photographs and at one point gets lost in the vacation spot he's been coming to stay in every summer for years, and it terrifies him.
  • The movie Away from Her is about a man who is forced to check his wife into a nursing home due to her rapidly advancing dementia, and he has to watch while she forgets him completely and strikes up a romance with another resident.
  • Knives Out introduces Wanetta "Great Nana" Thrombey as one of these, being the oldest Thrombey (nobody knows her age, but her son is 85) and having lost a mental acuity, rarely ever moving or speaking. However, she's also the least dysfunctional member of her family aside from her late son, and she ends up providing a vital clue for solving his murder.
  • Re;member: Zev is 89 and suffering from severe dementia, to the point he often forgets what he's doing or that his wife recently died. Not only that, but he forgot his own Nazi past.
  • In Relative Fear, Earl addresses his daughter Linda as "Katie," the name of his dead wife.
  • In About Scout, Scout and Lulu's gram is so old, she can't remember how many kids she has. Unfortunately, she's also the girls' only guardian.
  • Annie from Down in the Delta has Alzheimer's. She no longer recognizes her son Will, and she thinks Loretta is her mother. Her husband has hired the housekeeper Zenia to look after her while she's at work.
  • In Up the Front, Lurk dismisses Lord Twithampton as one and tends to disregard most things he says.

  • A doctor gets an elderly patient's results back and gives him the bad news: he has cancer and Alzheimer's. The patient nods stoically and says it could be worse: he could have had Alzheimer's too.
  • Inverted in one version of the scary story where a babysitter notices a statue who turns out to be an escaped murderer. The babysitter notices the statue, calls the family, and the grandfather who answers tells her they don't have a statue. The babysitter is about to take the kids and run when the father calls back: they did order a statue, but thanks to her they know the grandfather has Alzheimer's.

  • The Garden of Evening Mists plays this for drama.
    • Yun Ling is developing aphasia, meaning she is losing the ability to read, understand speech, and remember.
    • Emily is losing the ability to distinguish between the past and present. When Yun Ling and Frederik visit her, she starts talking about things that happened years ago as if they were recent.
  • Brothers Keepers: Brother Zebuluon, one of the two oldest monks, isn't quite all there, although he does remember some useful tidbits now and then.
  • A Brother's Price: The Porters had some mothers who were rather scatterbrained, and described as "ancient". They died in an explosion, caused by a bomb the Porter family had planted there. The younger ones wanted to get rid of the scatterbrained seniors who they feared would spill their murderous secrets.
  • The Knight Camaris, in Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy needs to be awakened from a long senescence.
  • Famed magical historian Bathilda Bagshot from Harry Potter is one of the oldest characters in a series where Wizards Live Longer. She’s known Dumbledore since he was a kid and he is in his 110s throughout the series. She’s also Grindelwald’s great aunt and he’s a year or two younger than Dumbledore. All this suffice to say, she’s very old and could be in the 150 ballpark. However by the time of the last book she’s, as someone else put it, “nuttier than squirrel poo.” Rita skeeter also calls her “Batty Bagshot”. Although Voldemort had killed her and Nagini was inhabiting her body by the time Harry “meets” her so it’s not clear if she’d actually lost her facilities.
  • El Patron in House of the Scorpion suffers from this towards the end of his life. He harvests brain implants from fetal clones of himself to regain his lucidity, however.
  • The elderly and absent-minded Professor Regius Chronotis ('Reg') from Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency describes his memory as being "like the Queen Alexandria butterfly, in that it is colorful, flits prettily here and there, and is now, sadly, almost completely extinct."
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Archmaester Valgrave, the ravenology teacher at the Citadel of Oldtown, is known for being particularly senile, and a younger aspirant usually takes his place on the Conclave of Archmaesters. Another maester, Aemon, was, on the contrary, unusually lucid for his (very) advanced age, but shortly before his death he started succumbing to scatterbrainedness. And this was Played for Drama (unlike with Valgrave above) and led to a particular Tear Jerker.
    • This was also the case with Aemon's great-great-great-great-great (-great, depending on how you trace the line of descent) grandfather Jaehaerys I. For both of them, it was probably due to their impending deaths wracking their minds as well as their bodies; as senility doesn't usually manifest itself so quickly and the 69-year-old Jaehaerys was a little young to be going senile.
    • Likewise, Jaehaerys' wife Alysanne starts to mentally unravel during the last year of her life despite only being in her early sixties.
  • One of Mr. Wednesday's cons in American Gods was pretending to be a helpless old man completely befuddled by modern gadgetry.
    Shadow: By my count, that young lady just paid you twice for the privilege of having you at her gas station.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Graypool has something like dementia: she gets confused frequently, getting the past and present mixed up. She tragically meets her death this way: she wanders off alone, thinking she's going to a Gathering, confuses Tigerstar for the long-dead father of her adopted kits, Oakheart, and reveals the secret that the kits are from ThunderClan. Tigerstar gets impatient with her, and, flustered, she steps backward, loses her balance, and falls down a slope, hitting her head.
    • Played for Drama with Bluestar. During her last life, she turned into this mainly due to Sanity Slippage caused by her deputy Tigerclaw betraying her. Bluestar couldn't focus and would get the past mixed up with the present, amongst other issues. Word of God is that she suffered from dementia. Bluestar wasn't even that old when she started becoming scatterbrained; she wasn't even seven years old.
  • Holden's unseen grandmother in The Catcher in the Rye is senile. She sends him birthday money multiple times a year.
  • Miss Trixie in A Confederacy of Dunces is blatantly senile and has become incompetent at her job, desperately wanting to retire. Ironically, her boss’s wife forces him to keep her around under the belief that her job is all she has left.
  • In Diary of a Wimpy Kid, when Great-Granny Meemaw was alive, she was in charge of putting the prizes in the plastic eggs for the family Easter egg hunt every year. When she got really old, she started putting strange things in the eggs like green beans, tissues, and her valuable diamond ring.
  • Language Arts: Sister Georgia, one of the residents of Cody's nursing home, thinks she's still working as a teacher at a Catholic school for disabled kids. She doesn't understand where all the children have gone.
  • In Navigating Early, Jack and Early stumble on the cabin of Eustasia Johannsen, a 100-year-old widow who mistakes Jack for her teenage son Martin, who went hunting fifty years ago and never returned. She tells Jack and Early to start digging her grave, because now that her son is back she can finally stop clinging onto life. Once she realizes her mistake, she sends the boys on their way, but it never occurs to her that if her son were alive he would be in his sixties.
  • In The Nowhere Girls, Rosina's abuelita has rapidly advancing dementia. She thinks Rosina is her daughter Alicia, who never made it out of Mexico. At one point she repeatedly hits Rosina because she thinks she's a demon wearing the skin of her daughter.
  • The Speed of Sound: In The Sound of Echoes, Caitlin visits her father, Lawrence, in the nursing home, where she finds that he doesn't remember her name, her relationship to him, or what the American Heritage Foundation is. This is a serious problem, because years ago he told her that if she felt his successors at the Foundation were letting power corrupt them, she should go to him immediately. He had a plan for that eventuality, but he's long since forgotten what it was. He at least remembers to give her a key that he had around his neck, which opens a safety-deposit box containing the information she needs to go to war with the Foundation.
    Lawrence: I'm sorry to disappoint you, Caitlin. I wish I could remember. I really do.
  • In Marcelo in the Real World, Amos mistakes Marcelo for his son James, who died years ago, even though James had blond hair and Marcelo is Hispanic.
  • In Truth or Dare (2000), Gran keeps mistaking her grandson Josh for her son Paul and demanding to know where her other son Patrick is.
  • Wild Orchid: In The White Bicycle, Taylor visits Adelaide, a very elderly woman she saved from drowning. Adelaide tells Taylor the same anecdotes from her childhood over and over, and a few hours into their visit, she forgets who Taylor is and asks her if they met in Art School. Despite Adelaide's memory problems, Taylor admires the way she stands up for herself when her daughter Francine tries to boss her around.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 7 Yüz episode "Refakatçiler" shows how Serhat's increasingly forgetful behavior, in addition to his physical ailments, lead to a frustrating loss of independence. Vildan pointedly reminds him more than once when he leaves the burner running, to his disdain.
  • Madam Secretary: After Air Force One goes missing with the President and Speaker of the House on board, and the Vice President is out sick, an elderly Senator is called in to swear in as president. However, a comment he makes reveals that he believes Ronald Reagan is still president, forcing Elizabeth to become president.
  • The Story of Tracy Beaker:
    • In the third season, we are introduced to Jackie, who has come into care after her grandfather, who was her main carer, develops Alzheimer's and can no longer look after her. At first, Jackie has a really hard time accepting this as she loves him dearly and doesn't want to lose him as he's her only living relative until he passes away in Season Four, but gradually comes to terms when she sees how badly affected he is.
    • An episode of The Dumping Ground has Gina, one of the care workers, bring her elderly mother, Hattie, to Elm Tree House after Hattie's carer is taken ill. As the episode progresses, it becomes evident that Hattie requires care because she has Alzheimer's. For instance, she mistakes Faith (one of the young people) for Gina, fails to recognise Tee (another of the young people), who ends up having to keep re-introducing herself, and forgets repeatedly that she has been brought to Elm Tree House.
  • House of Cards (US):
    • Donald Blythe's wife suffers from Alzheimer's disease. Frank uses this to his advantage to aid getting him to support a budget bill.
    • In Season 3, a Supreme Court Justice comes to the President and quietly admits to being diagnosed with Alzheimer's, requesting retirement. He's encouraged to remain on the bench because it would be politically inconvenient. He has an episode of losing his train of thought during a public legal proceeding and forgets the name of a long-time colleague. Later, because the wind has shifted, the Pres. needs him off the court but he refuses to quit, confounding the Commander in Chief's schemes.
  • House of the Dragon: By the time of Season 1's episode 6, the old Lord Lyman Beesbury is clearly losing his marbles, being unable to keep up with the current topic of conversation during Small Council meetings and attempting to talk about issues that have already been shelved.
  • Jimmy Cavanaugh in Orange Is the New Black. She ends up breaking her arm when she mistakes the chapel altar for a diving board and is later given compassionate release. Considering the state of the social net in the modern-day United States plus the fact she is a convict, it's pretty much a death sentence for her.
  • In Law & Order, Det. Ed Green's dad is mentioned as having Alzheimer's.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Deadly Years". As a result of exposure to radiation from a comet Captain Kirk and several other Enterprise officers undergo Rapid Aging. Captain Kirk is shown forgetting things several times, including several orders he had given, that he had signed a fuel consumption report and that the Romulans had broken Code 2.
  • In the premiere of NCIS: New Orleans a former NCIS agent is murdered causing Pride and Gibbs to reinvestigate a case all of them worked on together decades ago. Only one other member of that team is still alive so they go to visit him to see if he can give them any insight into what really happened back then. However, the guy suffers from Alzheimer's and while he remembers Pride and Gibbs, he quickly forgets why they are visiting and cannot provide them with any useful information.
  • The soap opera farce Soap features the character of Major Gatling, father of the main characters. He is a veteran not only suffering from some form of senile dementia, but with a touch of PTSD. He believes himself to still be fighting WWII (occasionally with live ammo). It's all Played for Laughs.
  • In Unforgettable Carrie has a Photographic Memory. The ironic twist is that her mother is in a nursing home and due to Alzheimer's doesn't remember Carrie.
  • Nash Bridges has a rare instance of this afflicting a regular character: Nash's father Nick (James Gammon).
  • Cougar Town plays this distinctly not for laughs. Late in season four, Jules takes her father to the doctor for what she thinks is an overdue physical only to discover he'd already gone the previous month and forgot about it. It turns out he's stricken with Alzheimer's.
  • Geriatric issues show up several times on Scrubs, naturally. There's Johnny, the tackling Alzheimer's patient, Pickles (an old man who only says "Pickles!"), and more.
  • The West Wing:
    • An Emmy Bait episode sent C.J. Cregg home to visit with her father, whose struggling with Alzheimer's. Notable in that it depicts and describes the condition accurately. Also, it's heartbreaking.
    • One season saw a running sub-plot of a Justice on the Supreme Court writing opinions in verse. Eventually it becomes clear that he's having episodes where his faculties are failing, but "On my good days, I'm better than anyone you could hope to get on the bench", and refuses to step down.
  • Shows up on two different occasions on Lost Girl
    • A second-season episode is built around the purchase of a weapon of mass destruction, however the weapon is a geriatric grandma... her trigger is taking away her portable TV, then telling her your enemies are responsible.
    • A third-season episode sends Bo back to her childhood home for some Epiphany Therapy with her sex-hating mother, only for her to find a sweet old widow who barely remembers that Bo even left, let alone why.
  • An episode of Psych has Shawn investigating two related crimes committed some thirty years apart, motivated to help his father's former partner, now rather lost to Alzheimer's.
  • An early episode of Eureka involves a long-forgotten relic of the Cold War, and Carter has to hunt down the guy who invented it. Then he has to find a way to get the guy's noodle back in order.
  • Played very darkly (naturally), in the Torchwood episode "Out of Time". A biplane containing passengers from the 1950s gets displaced in time and ends up in the present. One passenger wants to track down his son, who would now be an elderly man. Turns out he's in a nursing home with Alzheimer's and while he can remember random bits of his past, he isn't nearly lucid enough to know what any of his memories mean and doesn't recognize his own father. Seeing his son in that state is what convinces him there's nothing left for him, and he is Driven to Suicide.
  • Community:
    • One episode had Pierce join a gang of seniors who kept being jerks to people, relying on their age to get away with it. One of their gags was pretending to be lost and senile so that random cops would take pity on them. This was subverted when one of them actually did have a serious lapse... while driving a car. Ultimately not played for laughs.
    • Played for laughs with Pierce himself, who can't seem to remember anything past a week. At one point the group exploits his memory problems to convince him they didn't forget his birthday. The last one didn't work out as well as they thought, though.
  • In the later seasons of Stargate SG-1, it's discovered that the Goa'uld System Lord Yu is beginning to go senile, though his First Prime is doing his best to hide this fact and run the empire in his place. This is troubling to the heroes, because while Yu is just as evil and megalomaniacal as any other System Lord, he was at least rational and pragmatic compared to the outright psychosis of his fellows, and thus could be counted on for an Enemy Mine situation when it was necessary.
  • Black Mirror: Played for Drama in "Playtest". The protagonist of the episode, Cooper, lost his father to Alzheimer's and succumbing to it himself (or even worse, losing his mother to it) is one of his deepest, most personal fears. The brain-altering horror game he was playtesting uses this against him and it completely shatters his mind, Room 101 style.
  • Deus Salve O Rei: Queen Crisélia is going senile by the start of the story and beings suffering very random memory losses (such as forgetting that her daughter died a long time ago) and begins talking to herself. This is why in one of her lucid moments, she tells her grandson Afonso to succeed her when he returns from his expedition.
  • Call the Midwife: The elderly Sister Monica Joan is implied to have mild dementia. She's mostly a benign Cloudcuckoolander who's very good at her job in Nonnatus House despite her flights of fancy, but her condition is sometimes Played for Drama, such as when she loses concentration during a phone call with a woman in labour.
  • Live Forever As You Are Now with Alan Resnick: "Elderly Woman" Jordan Card claims that drawings of herself are birds and frogs, and talks to her digital clone about nonsense subjects, such as the fact that it's a Monday. Her clone doesn't fare any better and just rants about how cold the room is.
  • Played for laughs (mostly) with Maw-Maw on Raising Hope. She is implied to have some type of dementia and has occasional moments of lucidity when she accuses Burt and Virginia of mooching off her. (In actuality, although it may have started out that way, they're actually the ones taking care of her, and in fact when she's removed to a nursing home by the state, she's miserable there because the Chances knew her quirks and were better able to deal with them than the nursing home was.) She relives parts of her life from when she was younger and has multiple hidden talents, some that show up when she's lucid, others that show up when she's in her delusions. A Running Gag (especially early in the series) was Maw-Maw taking her top off when it was not appropriate to do so.
  • The Sopranos: This is the ultimate fate of Junior. By the end of the series, he can't even remember who Tony is, only that they played catch together.
  • The Golden Girls:
    • This is very often Played for Laughs with Sophia. Examples include putting her dentures in the dishwasher and momentarily forgetting Dorothy's name.
    • Played more seriously when Sophia befriends an old man with Alzheimer's, who forgets details about their previous encounters and seems to have forgotten a lot about his dead wife.
    • A flashback in a Mother's Day episode shows that Blanche's mother suffered this before she died. Again, this was a more serious example.
  • Better Things: Sam's mom Phyllis gets increasingly confused and forgetful as she ages, causing her daughter a lot of headaches over her forgetting things or simply being even more eccentric.
  • The final sketch of That Mitchell and Webb Look was a take on a retired Sherlock Holmes who has become this, with an aged (but still mentally alert) Watson visiting him and humoring his former partner's delusion of still being a great detective. Being a sketch comedy show, this is Played for Laughs — up until the final moment, where it turns into a massive Tear Jerker.
  • Money Heist: Raquel's mother suffers from memory problems, and has multiple post-its emplaced all around the house to remind herself of the changes, which becomes relevant when Ángel leaves a message in Raquel's home answering machine and she listens to it. When the Professor finds out about the message, he considers overdosing her with her medicine, but finding about her memory problems means he can just erase any trace of the message to get out of trouble.
  • One of the recurrent segments in shows by Eugenio Derbez is about an old married couple named Alz and Heimer. They start talking about something, but since they are both hard of hearing, as well as having bad memory, the conversation diverts into completely unrelated subjects. The sketches always end with Alz saying that Heimer's memory is leaving like a plane and Heimer (slowly) running out of the room, thinking that he's missing a literal plane.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: Played with in regard to King Durin the III. He is mentally sound, but too old-fashioned in the way he does the things, getting stuck in the past and never accepting new ideas. Disa considers her father in law to be a "lice-bearded, uncaring, old fool" who has grown "too old, too suspicious, his mind too feeble", at hearing he refused to help Elrond. She swears to her husband that they will depose him of his power one day and inherit his kingdom.
  • The Company You Keep: Charlie thinks his father messing up a code in a scam is just a fluke but soon realizes the man is in the early stages of Alzheimer's.
  • In the Mr. Belvedere episode "Grandma", Wesley befriends an elderly woman. She makes a few minor slips that seem to be basic absent-mindedness—saying that she told him to get a hat when she had told him to get a sweater, but it becomes obvious that it's more serious than that when she angrily accuses him of stealing money that she herself had given to him just a few minutes earlier. note 
  • Imposters: Maddie's father is suffering from dementia, and can't remember that she's left home, even her name once, nor a conversation which they just had. He also has an unprotected phone as he'd never be able to remember a password for it.
  • Midsomer Murders: Double subverted in "Sauce for the Goose". Initially Amelia Plummer seems to be losing her mind due to seeing a man hanging from a tree branch outside her window which disappears as soon as she looks again, none of her family taking her seriously about this under the assumption it's this trope. Barnaby and Scott quickly figure out that this is someone deliberately trying to drive her insane due to finding footprints under the tree and bark scraped away from the branch in question. At the end of the episode, however, she both forgets who her own children are and talks about her long dead husband as though he's alive.
  • Colonel Marshall from No Appointment Necessary (1977) is going senile and causes much trouble for his daughter Penelope.

  • Con-Dom plays this for horror on How Welcome Is Death To I Who Have Nothing More To Do But Die. "Living Death" is from the perspective of an advanced dementia patient, who has no concept of time, changes topic constantly, and struggles to come up with coherent thoughts. Several other tracks (including "Ending (Nora)") feature recordings of actual dementia patients, including one so advanced she had lost all capacity for speech.
  • This dark side of the trope is the foundation of The Caretaker, whose epic works An Empty Bliss Beyond This World and Everywhere At The End Of Time are intended to evoke the feeling of progressing dementia. The first tracks on either album start as fragments of early 20th century music, looped and slightly warped but still fairly clear and recognizable as their original songs. As both works progress, the tracks become far more distorted, warped, and distant sounding as the memories of the afflicted become hazier and more jumbled, and by the end of both there's only harsh noise. The final tracks do contain somewhat recognizable choral music, but this is intended to simulate pre-mortem lucidity and the ultimate passage into death.
  • GiedRé's "Grand-mère" describes the speaker's relationship with her 102-year-old grandmother. She is incontinent, accident-prone, and given to forgetting where she is—even down to putting her cat in the drier. The song ends with the speaker making a case for assisted suicide.

  • Merle of The Adventure Zone: Balance is the oldest member of the group, and can be very scatterbrained. He tends to forget about his magic or items more than the other party members. Lampshaded when Istus gives Merle a magic item that will allow him to send himself 9 seconds into the past in order to fix a mistake.
    Magnus: I just wonder how long it'll take him to forget he has that.
    Merle: Forget he has what?
    • He (and Clint) also has a tendency to forget people's names, calling Lucretia "Lucinda", and Istus "Isthmus". He even forgets his own surname. Twice.
    • He also will occasionally say one word when he means another.
      Merle: I prostate myself before you—
      Magnus: Nope!
      Merle: What?
  • In It Makes a Sound, the Other Voice in Deirdre's house, whose outbursts and activities consistently interrupt the broadcast of her amateur radio show, is heavily implied to have some form of dementia, especially judging by her attempt to speak into Deirdre's mic while she's away.
    The Other Voice: Who's there? I'm in the hole. Yes, I'm n— the sixteenth hole. If you can find, wined and dime it... [clapping noises] I am the hole-holy smokes...

    Video Games 
  • Both the first and third Ace Attorney games feature witnesses with this characterization who Phoenix has to face. Both of them are subversions.
    • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, the caretaker of the boat rental shop Phoenix and Maya investigate is a textbook example. He's so disconnected from reality that he thinks he runs a noodle shop. He believes the two are his grandchildren Keith and Meg and says that they will inherit the noodle shop someday. He's prone to falling asleep and does so several times, even when he was on the stand, and can't even remember his own name. It turns out that he was Obfuscating Insanity. His real name is Yanni Yogi and he was the court bailiff trapped with Miles Edgeworth and his father Gregory in the elevator. He was framed for killing the latter and his lawyer used the Insanity Defense, citing oxygen deficiency being trapped in the elevator, to have him declared innocent even though he really didn't take Gregory's life.
    • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations, it's Victor Kudo, a Dirty Old Man. The resulting cross-examination makes it look like Kudo's memory has gone bad, due to his testimony not matching up with some of the evidence. This cross-examination also tries to make it out that he was only looking at the waitress' outfit, meaning he couldn't properly identify the defendant. As it turns out, Kudo's memory is just fine despite his age. The inconsistencies were the result of Kudo witnessing not the actual murder, but a reenactment that was done to frame Wright's client — and the waitress of the reenactment purposefully hid her face from Kudo's view.
  • Played for Drama in AI: The Somnium Files regarding Mayumi Matsushita who is suffering from dementia, hammered in by Aiba's thermal sight which shows her brain with a lower temperature compared to her body. She still thinks her deceased husband is alive after he passed away from a heart attack years ago and has a rocky relationship with her son Ota. Her Somnium is fractured from her memories being jumbled which causes the main theme of putting the missing parts back together and the Golden Ending has her getting medical support for this.
  • Played for Drama in Alan Wake II: Pat Maine was already getting on in years during the first game, but in the sequel thirteen years later he's still running his radio show out of the Valhalla Nursing Home on a much smaller scale and definitely doesn't sound quite as collected as he used to. He forgets how to operate his radio equipment, he mixes up which guest he currently has on, and is very insistent on plugging his sponsor, Davis Family Beef Jerky, any chance he gets. Said business doesn't exist, and its supposed proprietor, Wendy Davis, has been dead for years. His increasingly frustrated callers (one of which being Wendy's widowed husband, who is clearly not over the loss) attempt to tell him this, but he brushes it off, thinking they're all in on some big prank against him. Why, he just saw Wendy selling her beef jerky at the market on Sunday! Can't get one over on him! Saddest of all, the man who was once a fan of Alan's books, and one of his closest allies in the first game, doesn't even remember he exists. Never even heard of this Alan Walker fellow before. You sure he's not the dead one? Everyone must just be mixing him up with Wendy. Yeah, that must be it. However, how much of this is genuine dementia and how much is him remembering how the town was before the manuscript altered it is unclear.
  • Harper thinks this of Woods in Call of Duty: Black Ops II during the introductory scene. However, he is proven wrong seconds later, as the latter is still very with it.
  • Michelle Walthers in Deus Ex: Human Revolution is this. Her mind is probably years ago in the past, as she insists to an adult Adam that he is only in his childhood (while thinking that the adult Adam is a food delivery driver). After completing her side-quest, if the player tries to press her for information about Adam's real parents after she discusses the White Helix labs, she will continue to forget the conversation, leaving the player no choice but to leave.
  • Deus Ex Machina 2 (which is not related to the above) follows the protagonist's entire lifespan, and depicts his going senile by having the clocks throughout the previous Old Age stage turn into a mess of shattered parts that he floats through, encountering portals leading to low-res versions of several of the previous stages in reverse order as he deteriorates further and further. The final gameplay stage ("Wonder") has him wandering aimlessly through a winding road as a song from the perspective of a child who can't find their parents plays in the background.
  • In Don't Starve's character film for Warly, "Taste of Home", he is shown caring for his elderly and disabled mother and jogging her memories by cooking for her the meals she used to cook for him. She relapses as soon as the meal is over, and isn't aware enough to react when he's kidnapped to the Constant on his way to wash the dishes.
  • The premise of Ether One is that you are using cutting-edge technology to embark on a Journey to the Center of the Mind of such a person. Through it, you learn some information about the patient's experiences with their failing mental facilities, including that the patient could not remember why he was attending a funeral (for what turns out to be the patient's spouse), that the patient once struggled to make a music box work only to be told that it was actually a cushion, that the patient has suffered extremely unpleasant outbursts due to misplacing things and, finally, that the technology does not exist, and that you are the dementia-afflicted patient and that your experience is an internal struggle to sort out your own memories.
  • Subverted in Fallout 3. Old Lady Dithers in Tranquility Lane is dismissed by everyone else on the street as going senile. She's not. Thanks to Pinkerton sabotaging her virtual-reality chair, she's capable of remembering the various and sundry horrible things Braun has inflicted on them while everyone else has suffered repeated memory wipes. Speak to her and she'll explain what's going on, pointing you towards a potential escape route.
  • Rosine of Granblue Fantasy is often featured in events and is interacting with other younger characters. Sadly, she has some mild dementia due to her age and often forgets Lyria and Vyrn's names. She mistakes Vaseraga for her husband in a Fate Episode due to some very thin similarities (i.e., a large man carrying a large scythe) even though the latter always wears a helmet.
  • Old Reece from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is implied to be this, as Ryder mentions the former having 'popped his membrane years ago'. Indeed, he will talk to CJ in a manner that suggests he is mentally in the past.
  • Anju's grandmother appears to have this in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, as she thinks Link is her deceased son (or the mayor as a child if he's wearing Kafei's mask). However, reading her diary shows that she is quite lucid, and she only fakes it to avoid having to eat Anju's terrible cooking.
  • Invoked in the Mr. Hopp's Playhouse series. In the first game, Esther, the grandmother of the protagonist Ruby, had died a short time ago from what appeared to be severe dementia, with descriptions of her losing all control of her faculties and her mind degrading away. It's then revealed in the second game, which is a Prequel expanding on Esther's backstory and how she came across the titular demonic toy rabbit, that her mental degradation was actually the result of the demonic forces she had previously defeated as a little girl returning to get their revenge on her by driving her insane and killing her so that they can target the rest of her family.
  • In the good-prevails ending of Myst V: End of Ages, an aging Atrus mistakes Watson for a long-dead friend, implying that as of the mid-'00s, he was in the early stages of Alzheimer's.
  • Nintendo Wars: Sensei from Advance Wars 2 and Dual Strike seems to have shades of this, though it's unclear how much of this is down to humility and not wanting to be the centre of attention. He dismisses the idea that he was once a practically unbeatable C.O. in his bygone yearsnote  as mere rumours from so long ago that he had almost forgotten.
    Sonja: Sensei! You did it! You are victorious!
    Sensei: Hm? I am? Oh, that's nice.
  • Overwatch features Siebren de Kuiper, a.k.a. "Sigma", a 62-year-old astrophysicist who wound up in a Freak Lab Accident that gave him gravity-based superpowers and a bizarre mental disorder where he phases in and out of focus of his surroundings. Sigma's age actually has nothing to do with his mental condition, but regardless, Sigma often swaps between being perfectly lucid to going off on weird philosophical tangents mixed with disturbing, yet unwitting acts of violence.
  • In Persona 4, Hisano's husband was clearly suffering from some sort of dementia, probably Alzheimer's, before his death (even if the game never uses the word) to the point of forgetting who she was. She considered his passing a mercy and is still incredibly broken up by it when you meet her.
  • In Rakuen, Kisaburo is an old man suffering from delirium caused by the tumors that metastasized to his brain. He thinks he's at his job rather than a hospital, never recognizes his wife when she visits, and much to the ire of the hospital staff, has been sneaking out to dig up buckets of dirt and dump it all in a back room. Completing his quest reveals that he was trying to use his fleeting moments of clarity to build a small flower garden as a token of his love for his wife before the disease claimed his life.
  • Sticky Business: Played for Drama in Plan With Me. Carlota's mom has early-stage Alzheimer's and they're both struggling to come to terms with it. Carlota then gets the courage to order your habit tracker stickers to help her mom remember to take her meds.
  • Implied for Gran from Survivor: Fire, who bakes brownies at two in the morning and then doesn't go out of the kitchen when they burn and start a fire.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles 3: Hoo boy. Triton fits into this trope like a glove! He’s always forgetting things and will sometimes ramble on about nothing. Although he has a good heart, nobody can ever tell what's going on inside his head.
  • You Don't Know Jack: The recurring character known only as "Old Man" is highly eccentric and absent-minded, so much he gets an entire category of questions devoted to him trying to remember things, "Foggy Facts with Old Man". In The Jack Box Party Pack, he shows up as the mayor in "Civic Doodle", serving as co-host to his secretary (whose name he can never get right) and frequently going on rambling tangents.

    Visual Novels 
  • Raging Loop: The Old Man Who Cried Wolf is over ninety years old and suffers from dementia: The villagers do not even remember his name because he hasn't been lucid enough to use it for most of the time they've been alive. In truth he's Obfuscating Stupidity, something only Chikamochi and Kanzo are aware of (and the latter only suspects it); while he thinks and speaks somewhat slowly, he's still perfectly lucid and quite spry for ninety-three.

  • Poison Ivy Gulch: Parodied here when the mayor meets an old man protesting senility.
  • Davan Macintire's father, Fred, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's several years into Something*Positive. He remained lucid for quite a while, using it as an excuse to play pranks on his kids, but steadily deteriorated over time and died in 2020.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: In a character's backstory, the warning signs of someone being Brainwashed and Crazy were mistaken for the early stage of dementia due to the person being of a fairly advanced age.

    Web Original 
  • FreedomToons: Joe Biden will invariably be portrayed as a senile old man who barely comprehends what's going on around him.
  • In The Tourettes Guy, Danny's ex-wife Shirlena has a grandpa with Alzheimer's who began taking his clothes off in a K-Mart one day. Danny found this story more hilarious than heartbreaking.
  • The bots of the Jolly Roger Telephone Company are designed to waste the time of telemarketers and other annoying callers. One of them, Whitey Whitebeard is designed to exemplify this trope and thus makes a great choice for those looking to scam the elderly. He rambles about the bad weather, talks about how hard it is for him to get up to go answer the door, and generally seems like he's not quite all there. Later iterations of him even have a custom routine in which if the AI detects a medical scam, he will start talking about his back pain and ask if the scammer has medication that can treat that.
  • Plonqmas: Plonq’s mother is revealed to be suffering from dementia in “A Plonqmas Tale — 2018.” He is urged to call her for the holidays and does so at story’s end.

    Western Animation 
  • In Season 2 of The Animals of Farthing Wood, Badger's senility is Played for Drama. He mistakes Mossy for Mole, even though Vixen tries to explain to him that Mole has passed away, but he doesn't pay attention to her and Fox says that Badger can't assimilate it. Vixen convinces Mossy to continue pretending that he is his father of him since that makes Badger very happy, when Badger is dying, he rambles and believes that he is in his old settlement of him in Farthing Wood before he dies.
  • The Proud Family: Suga Mama dates another senior citizen named Clarence. While her family assumes he is trying to take advantage of her, it is later revealed at the end of the episode that his memory is addled, and had been missing from home for a while. The wedding they planned to have is called off, leaving Suga Mama heartbroken.
  • My Little Pony:
  • Hey Arnold!: Arnold's Grandma is pretty much insane. This trope is played for laughs though, as her shenanigans are used for comedic effect. The only time she is shown to be normal is in flashbacks and in an episode where a rough heatwave drove everyone else crazy while driving her back to sanity.
  • One interpretation of Granddad's tall tales in The Boondocks is that he is suffering from the early stages of dementia, as was speculated in-universe.
  • Played for Laughs in SpongeBob SquarePants with Mermaid Man, whose memory leaves much to be desired.
  • Grandpa Dave is implied to have an early stage of this in the Arthur episode, "Grandpa Dave's Memory Album". This gets played for drama, as the first clue that something is wrong is when he forgets he's playing with the kids and then, later, he calls Arthur, "Arnold".
  • Though his senior moments were usually played for humor, the South Park episode "Cash for Gold" implies in a rather serious scene that grandpa Marvin Marsh has Alzheimer's, and he explicitly says he does in "Nobody Got Cereal?"
  • In The Venture Bros., Dragoon, a supervillain active since the 1960s, is suggested to be losing a fair bit of his reasoning, probably not helped by the fact that he's been stuck as a Multiple Head Case. He's done things like confuse the events of Wacky Races with his own life, saying "1659" when he meant 1959, and entirely forgetting that he oversaw a mass execution.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Abraham "Grandpa" Simpson has a pretty heavily eroded mind. This can range from simple forgetfulness to being completely divorced from reality. He once kept two policemen occupied by claiming to be the Lindbergh baby and wanting his "fly-fly dada". When the police ask if he's trying to stall them, or if he's just senile, he admits it's "a little from Column A, a little from Column B". This is consistently played for laughs.
    • Mr. Burns, Homer's elderly employer, dips his toe in and out of this trope. Sometimes he's quite clever and shrewd, but other times he seems unaware that it's not still the (early) 20th Century, and he's never able to remember who Homer is, even after being reminded that "all the recent events of your life have revolved around him in some way." This is also played for laughs.
  • Danger Mouse's superior Colonel K became this as this series went on. He can never remember how to end a transmission or gets transmission sign-offs confused.
    Colonel K: Over and out? No, 127 to 5, last thing I heard.
  • In Season 4 of BoJack Horseman, BoJack's mother Beatrice has succumbed to dementia, which BoJack very reluctantly deals with since she wasn't the best mother to him. She confuses him for a maid named Henrietta and tends to get the past and present day mixed up. The episode "Time's Arrow" is a Whole Episode Flashback to her youth as shown through the lens of her deteriorating mind, with disturbing details like background characters' faces being completely blank and the letters on signs glitching and getting mixed up. By season 5, she has died from it.
  • The Fairly OddParents!: Age evidently hasn't been too kind to the state of mind of Timmy's grandfather Pappy, who only appears in the episode "The Good Old Days". A flashback shows that he's responsible for his grandson having an overbite because he forgot Mrs. Turner's instruction that he shouldn't let baby Timmy suck on his pacifier too long. At the end of the episode, he informs Timmy's parents about their bonding experience where Timmy wished to Cosmo and Wanda that the world was like a 1930's cartoon, which convinces Mrs. Turner that Pappy has become too senile to trust with watching over Timmy and persuades her to forbid Timmy's grandpa from ever again being an alternative to having Vicky look after Timmy while his parents are away (giving one other excuse for Pappy being a one-shot character besides his episode solely serving as a moral on understanding the merits of older works of fiction).
  • Memorable is an animated short about an artist, a painter, who falls victim to Alzheimer's Disease. This is rendered in the cartoon by the painter perceiving his world in an increasingly fractured, modern art kind of way where shapes become bizarre and unpredictable. The faces of his family at a dinner party are shown as bizarre Cubist art, because he's losing the ability to recognize them.


Hojo (FF7 Abridged)

The professor has lost more than a few screws in his old age.

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