With over 20 years of stand-up-comedy experience, Jim Breuer has always relied on his family members for inspiration. Named one of Comedy Central’s “100 Greatest Standups of All Time,” the onetime Saturday Night Live star is known for his spot-on impressions and family-friendly material. Now the father of three girls, Breuer remembers his dad as a quirky but strong role model. Breuer cared for his father, who had Alzheimer’s disease, for more than three years, until he passed away in 2014.
In the above video, Breuer reveals what it was really like caring for his father, a “man’s man” and World War II vet. He said his father was mortified when he soiled himself, a situation Breuer tried to make light of. “I was hosing him down like a prisoner,” he said. “If you can step back and laugh at yourself and at a situation, it’s healing.”
Breuer said caring for his father helped him find his voice as a comedian, as well as his passion: inspiring others in the same situation.
“Caregivers need humor not only for the healing aspect but also to lift our spirits and inspire us to keep doing what we are doing,” Breuer said.
As part of AARP’s ongoing support for caregivers, AARP Studios plans to delve into the deeply personal stories of Breuer and an up-and-coming comic, Jesus Trejo, to find out what it’s really like in the trenches caring for ailing parents, as part of a documentary to be released later in 2017.
The aim of the documentary is to show how laughter can lighten a caregiver’s load mentally. The one-hour program stems from a special event featuring the comedians that was hosted by AARP in Los Angeles last December. At the event, Breuer talked about the importance of laughing through tough times.
“Laughter is what connects pretty much all pain,” he said.
The documentary is part of AARP’s ongoing effort to shine a light on male caregivers. Although the typical unpaid family caregiver is a 49-year-old woman, men are growing in the ranks. Today they represent about four in 10 caregivers in the United States, counting about 16 million.