The New Face of Alzheimer’s
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None of us want to think about Alzheimer's, but when we do, our mind is likely filled with received ideas: Images of the dark, not-knowing, empty stare that comes over the faces of patients. But there is a new face of Alzheimer's which offers an open, frank, and fearless window on the disease. It's a face that comes sharply into focus during this important episode of Life (Part 2).
First, our cameras travel to the Indiana home of Mary Ann Becklenberg, a courageous, articulate 64-year-old woman who is speaking out for herself and others in the early stages of Alzheimer's. A former hospice worker who is now on the Early Stage Advisory Committee for the Alzheimer's Association, Becklenberg sees her diagnosis as a challenge to inform others about a disease that now afflicts more than five million Americans.
In this opening segment, we meet Mary Ann's family, friends, and former colleagues. How is her husband coping? What signs did Mary Ann's co-workers first see that hinted at her condition? How do her friends feel as they witness the progression of the disease?
Then, Robert Lipsyte sits down with Mary Ann, and she doesn't flinch from the difficult truths. Yet this poignantly self-aware woman shows how it is possible to live with Alzheimer's with dignity and great intelligence-and even to make important plans while they can still be made. This conversation offers a clear vision of Alzheimer's that you likely have never before seen.
Then, former United States Poet Laureate Billy Collins reads "Forgetfulness," his frank and sometimes funny poem about how even "normally" aging minds slowly let go of facts and memories.