The award winning documentary: Too Soon to Forget: The Journey of Younger Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, will be featured at the American Society on Aging’s national conference in New Orleans, LA, on Wednesday, April 17. Following is an excerpt written by Susan Frick, Executive Producer of the film and social worker at Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, on what this honor means to her:
by Susan Frick, MSW, LSW
“I began to see little chinks in my armor. And, I knew that something seemed out of balance and, I couldn’t figure it out. It was, it was a, it was a mystery to me.” Scott, living with Alzheimer’s at age 57
For the past several years I’ve been listening to people’s stories. As a social worker, that’s not uncommon but this was different as I was privileged to become the Executive Producer on the award winning documentary Too Soon to Forget: The Journey of Younger Onset Alzheimer’s Disease which was selected for national broadcast by American Public Television.
I sat in the room as nine families and the people who support them shared what it is like to live with younger onset Alzheimer’s disease. At any age Alzheimer’s disease is a difficult and lonely experience but imagine being in midlife when symptoms begin to show.
I listened to people with Alzheimer’s wrestle with what this illness did to sense of self. I heard families share what it took to get through each day. I heard extended families, friends and professionals talk about their struggles of staying involved and connected. I listened to Dan Gasby, our narrator and husband of supermodel and restaurateur, B. Smith, as he beautifully told their story of life with B’s Alzheimer’s. All their stories were poignant, intense, hopeful, sad and filled with love.
“I remember from getting that diagnosis, when we left the hospital. We walked eight or nine blocks, and she looked at me and she said we’re going to tell people, because the one thing we understood from being in front of the camera and public eye is that people make things up, and people connect dots that are not there, and the only way to have any sense of your own serenity, and confidence in what’s going on is for you to tell people exactly what you’re dealing with, so you ultimately define yourself.” Dan Gasby, husband of person with Alzheimer’s disease
There can be something healing in sharing your story. Putting life to some of your deepest thoughts doesn’t change the Alzheimer’s disease. It doesn’t change the ripple effects this disease has on everyone involved. Telling your story does though change the loneliness. The nine families involved in Too Soon to Forget made a difference for themselves. Their sense of purpose and devotion to our film was awe inspiring. These families made a different for others in showing how each of us has a role in walking along side those living with Alzheimer’s disease. And, they made a difference to me. I am profoundly changed from sitting in those rooms as each person of Too Soon to Forget bravely shared their stories.
“I can drop the ball whenever I want. Somehow they’re there to pick it up and so I don’t fear anything, to tell you the truth. When they stand next to me they know that anything can happen and somehow I’d get through it.” Mike, living with Alzheimer’s disease at age 63
It is our hope that each person who watches Too Soon to Forget will be changed by the experience.
“The stories you’ve just heard show that each of us has a responsibility in walking alongside those living with Alzheimer’s disease. So if there’s one lesson we hope you will take away, it’s that everyone needs someone to walk with. It’s our vision to create a world where anyone living with younger onset Alzheimer’s – never needs to walk alone.” Dan Gasby, narrator for Too Soon to Forget
Purchase your copy of the DVD today. Click here for details.
Susan Frick, MSW, LSW has worked at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center since 1997 and is the Executive Producer of the documentary for PBS entitled, Too Soon to Forget: The Journey of Younger Onset Alzheimer’s Disease.