Nothing is remotely funny about Alzheimer’s disease.
But Seth Rogen is using his fame as an actor and comedian to raise awareness around dementia and confront the stigma surrounding a subject that folks are often reluctant to talk about. About 55 million people globally live with dementia, and nearly 10 million cases are diagnosed every year, according to the World Health Organization.
The financial and emotional burden on families and caregivers is enormous. An AARP study from spring 2021 estimated that family caregivers spent more than a quarter of their own income every year on caregiving activities, an average of more than $7,200. The median cost of care for older adults in the United States who need assistance for dementia or other chronic conditions ranges from almost $60,000 annually to more than $100,000, depending on whether the care is at home or in a nursing home, according to insurer Genworth, which tracks the costs.
Couple's nonprofit raises money for research
A decade ago, Rogen and his actress wife, Lauren Miller Rogen, started the nonprofit Hilarity for Charity. Adele Miller, Miller Rogen’s mom, was diagnosed in her mid-50s with an aggressive case of early-onset Alzheimer’s, and Adele Miller’s parents both developed dementia.
The couple joined AARP chief executive Jo Ann Jenkins on stage Jan. 6 at the CES trade show in Las Vegas in conjunction with the AARP’s AgeTech Summit to discuss the disease and how technology can help combat cognitive decline.
Balancing humor with a deadly serious topic is no easy task.
“It’s become very organic to who we are,” Seth Rogen said in an interview. “If you have a comedic perspective on life and if your outlet is comedy, then it might take some time to process. But ultimately the only way to approach something like this is through that lens. It’s not as challenging as it once was for us.”
His wife agreed. “At our first charity event 10 years ago, we didn’t really mention Alzheimer’s at all,” she said.
Some years back, Miller Rogen started capturing footage of her mom’s journey with the disease. The video will be used in an AARP-sponsored documentary from filmmaker James Keach, who also directed the 2014 documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.
“What we really would like to show people is the real true reality in this horrendous thing,” Miller Rogen said of the new film. “My mom didn’t talk for the last six years.”