Nov 7, 2018

Film "What They Had" Focuses on Family Coping With Alzheimer's Disease

Update 11/29/18: This film is no longer playing locally.

With Alzheimer's Disease and related dementias on the rise, the new film "What They Had" will resonate with many American families coping with caregiving responsibilities. First-time writer-director Elizabeth Chomko has loosely based the film on her own family. Chomko's grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's seventeen years ago and died just recently.

The film stars Blythe Danner as the family matriarch who has Alzheimer's. The family situation reaches a crisis point when she wanders out in the snow wearing only pajamas. Her daughter, portrayed by Hillary Swank, returns to her hometown to help out, at the urging of her brother, played by Michael Shannon. The siblings clash over caregiving responsibilities, and what is best for their mother and for themselves. Complicating the scenario is their father, played by Robert Forster, who refuses to consider placing his wife in a facility. 

For actors Danner and Swank, the film was particularly meaningful. Both have had personal experience caring for ill family members. Danner cared for her late husband Bruce Paltrow, and Swank, for her father.

This family dynamic will likely ring true for anyone who has faced the challenge of caring for a parent, spouse or other loved one with Alzheimer's. Among those challenges is how to pay for the extraordinary costs of long-term care that many Alzheimer's patients will eventually require. In Florida, the median cost of a private room in a long-term care facility is now over $100,000 (2018 Genworth Financial Cost of Care Survey). The attorneys of The Karp Law Firm counsel many families in this crisis, and can often help them tap into Medicaid benefits and/or Veterans Aid and Attendance benefits before losing everything to nursing home costs. 

Click below to listen to an interview with the actors discussing caregiving challenges, Alzheimer's Disease, and their roles in the film.

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