As an Elder Law attorney in Gainesville, I always seize the opportunity to increase awareness as it relates to dementia and Alzheimers. With the media attention on the movie “Still Alice” as Julianne Moore wins the best actress Oscar, it’s the perfect time to discuss the fear, confusion, panic, and dread that Alzheimers brings and lessons we can take away. I would also note that Glen Campbell has also been nominated for an Oscar. He is in the final stages of his Alzheimer’s disease, but what an amazing way he handled his dementia, by touring and singing until the very end. We should learn from this too.
In “Still Alice,” Julianne Moore plays Alice Howland, who happily married with three grown children and is a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words. When she receives a diagnosis of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, Alice and her family find their bonds thoroughly tested. Her struggle to stay connected to who she once was is frightening, heartbreaking, and inspiring. Told from Alice’s perspective to answer the question what does it feel like to have this disease?
Here are some take-away messages from the movie:
1. Live in the moment. Embrace the importance of doing what you love, and enjoying your life even if you are declining and losing things that are important. An Alzheimers diagnosis is not the end of life. We must be sure to continue living and enjoying our lives as much as possible.
2. Treasure our unsung heroes, the caregivers, and realize that this is not just a disease that affects the person, but also everyone around us. Our beloved friends, colleagues and families should remain involved and participate in caregiving as much as possible. It truly takes a village.
3. Be prepared. Have your estate plan in place that not only addresses what will happen when you die, but also prepares for issues that may arise if you become incapacitated. A trust-based plan, durable power of attorney, HIPAA waiver, designation of healthcare surrogate, and living will are all directives that can assist others in implementing your wishes if you cannot implement them yourself.