Nov 7, 2018

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

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 issues. 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 with Alzheimer's. The 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 themselves. Complicating the scenario is their father, played by Robert Forster, who refuses to consider placing her in a facility. 


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. 

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

The film is currently playing in Delray Beach and Lake Worth, Florida. Click here for the schedule. For the nationwide release schedule, click here. 


Click below to listen to the actors being interviewed about caregiving challenges, Alzheimer's Disease, and their roles in the film.


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