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Short Film Shows Family's Powerful Response to Early-Onset Alzheimer's Diagnosis

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Any family coping with Alzheimer’s disease knows the heartbreak that accompanies this devastating diagnosis. And as a new PSA shows, the diagnosis can spark unique coping ideas for families faced with an unexpected future.

In a nine-minute film titled “A Good Man,” produced by the Alzheimer’s Association with ELEMENT Productions and creative agency Full Contact, Elissa Carreras and Jeff Craddock describe how Craddock’s early-onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis at age 51 inspired them to plan a “bucket list” trip around the country with their three children.

In the film, Carreras explains that at first, she was frustrated because she thought her husband was disengaging from the family on purpose. Then, when he also began struggling at work, she realized there was more going on.

“He couldn’t figure out how to make coffee, because the coffee maker was too complicated. That’s not him.That’s not him. That’s the disease,” Carreras says in the film. “In that moment… gone. All that anger, all that frustration, resentment, it was gone. That was the beginning — the beginning, not the end, the beginning.”

After consulting with the Alzheimer’s Association and Craddock’s neurologist, they decided to get out and see the country while they still had time to enjoy it as a family.

“We have so much living still to do, and we’re going to do it now. So it’s that purposeful intention, the intention of living, that I think we have found so invigorating as a result of this otherwise devastating diagnosis,” Carreras says.

Watch the entire film below:

“Jeff and Elissa’s story is not a tragedy by any means. It is a love story,” Full Contact Partner/Creative Director Marty Donahue said in a press release. “Yes, Jeff’s diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s at just 51 years was a terrible blow, but the family’s response to it and their will to fight the good fight is nothing short of extraordinary.”

An estimated 5.8 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. About 5% of those are affected before age 65, which is considered early-onset Alzheimer’s. Symptoms include difficulty learning new information, mood changes, disorientation, confusion about time and events, and in later stages, difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking. There is no cure, but some treatments can help people with Alzheimer’s cope with the symptoms.

If you or a loved one is coping with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, you aren’t alone. Check out these stories from others who are living with dementia and discover their advice.

Originally published: November 19, 2019
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