Documentary, narrated by John Forsythe, opens with actress Shelley Fabares describing her anguish over the diagnosis of her mother, Elsa Fabares, with Alzheimer’s and her own struggle to come to grips with the challenges of caregiving.
At the heart of the caregiver’s dilemma, explains Fabares, is the constant feeling that “no matter what you’re doing, it’s never enough.”
Program chronicles the daily struggles of several Los Angeles families coping with the disease. Gene Ploger, whose wife, Lois, suffers from Alzheimer’s, has carefully installed safety latches on cupboards around his house and hides matches and dangerous materials.
Linda Wells, a working mother, describes the pain of having to give up the care of her mother for the sake of her 5-year-old son, who needed her care himself.
The documentary highlights the resources available for caregivers, such as a support group whose sessions illustrates how groups meetings eases the isolation of daily caretaking.
The importance of setting priorities in caregiving is also stressed, with focus on private nursing and adult day-care centers that take some of the burden off the family members. As one professional explains, caregiving for Alzheimer’s patients is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.
With the number of Alzheimer’s patients estimated as high as 4 million nationally, and with the baby boom aging, the implications of Alzheimer’s care are enormous.
While this program provides practical help for caregivers and does not focus on how support services and other treatment programs are funded, this subject is obviously crucial to the future both of our families and our nation.