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'Living With Alzheimer's' 


David Shenk's film project shows how caregivers adapt

David Shenk, the author of The Genius in All of Us and The Forgetting — Alzheimer's: Portrait of an Epidemic, recently talked with Mike Cuthbert about his Living With Alzheimer's film project. In his role as producer, Shenk tasked four different filmmakers to each make a short film to show how families adapt to having a loved one who has Alzheimer's disease.

See also: Caregiving Resource Center

Veteran caregivers are resource for new families caring for loved ones with Alzheimer's. (Peter Zander/Getty Images)

Veteran caregivers can be the best resource for new family caregivers "living with Alzheimer's." — Peter Zander/Getty Images

In this Prime Time Radio interview, Shenk points out that every year about 450,000 Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Every diagnosis creates a ripple effect, as millions of family members are thrown into a terribly sad, confusing and time-consuming new world.

Shenk believes the best resource, by far, is experienced Alzheimer’s families — caregivers who have already spent years learning to navigate this harrowing terrain.

"That’s where our new film series comes in," said Shenk. "It will introduce shell-shocked, brand-new caregivers to veteran caregivers, and powerfully demonstrate precisely how they cope."

Shenk emphasizes that while no one is glossing over the difficulty of the disease, he did ask the filmmakers to focus on solutions — the tools and strategies families employ to carve out a comfortable and meaningful life.

"The overarching message of each film will be: We’re making it through this, and you can, too," he said. "The agenda: to show newly diagnosed families that life does go on, that in the face of all the extraordinary challenges presented by Alzheimer’s, families do learn to cope. The goal is to show how people adapt."

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