About The Forgetting: meet the families
At the time of filming, Gladys and Harry Fuget were a retired couple in their 70s. For several years, Gladys had been slipping into the early stages of Alzheimer's, which slowly progressed. Initially, words, dates and people's names escaped her memory. Amidst these struggles, her husband Harry moved into the role of caregiver. He rarely left her side and took over most of her household tasks. Harry was in a position that many caregivers experience—coping with the double stress of added responsibility and losing the wife he's always known. Harry and Gladys have both died since The Forgetting was filmed. A devoted caregiver, Harry passed away before Gladys.
The Noonan family carries an extremely rare genetic mutation that—if inherited—guarantees early onset Alzheimer's. The incidence of this gene mutation that causes early onset Alzheimer’s is believed to occur in just two to five percent of all Alzheimer’s cases. The Noonans have lost their mother and a sister to the disease. In the documentary, they band together to comfort their brother, Butch—diagnosed with Alzheimer's just before the filming—and care for their sister, Fran—who, at age 55, already had mid-stage Alzheimer's and lived in a nursing home. The remaining Noonan siblings live every day knowing they have a 50 percent chance of getting the disease, which—if inherited—could also be passed along to their children.
At the time of filming, Isabel McKenna was nearing the end of her journey with Alzheimer's disease. Her experience with the disease was a difficult, yet typical, progression into late stage Alzheimer's. She was no longer able to talk and had limited movement. Her husband and daughters had spent 13 years watching the slow progression of her decline. Having experienced everything from home care to nursing home care, they recalled their frustrations, love, fears and realizations as they prepared for the end of a long goodbye. Mr. McKenna died before Isabel, shortly after the documentary aired.