This is Us

A blessing of having a few days of bed rest due to back pain is that I got caught up on Grey’s Anatomy and This is Us.

Both of these shows have used Alzheimer’s as major story lines.

Today I am focusing on This is Us, which has portrayed Alzheimer’s in a more realistic way than Grey’s Anatomy (and the movie The Notebook…don’t get my started on the Notebook).

If you don’t watch This is Us, the matriarch of the family, Rebecca Pearson, has Alzheimer’s, and she passed away in last week’s episode. Was it a perfect portrayal of Alzheimer’s? Of course not. But it was pretty dang good. The writers did their homework.

One aspect of their story that should be noted is that they are a family of privilege at the point when Rebecca is diagnosed. They are able to move Rebecca and her husband into a beautiful home that was built at the cost of their son, who is a famous actor. She seems to have access to top-notch medical care. All three of Rebecca’s children visit frequently. The cost of travel is never mentioned, and their jobs appear to be flexible enough to accommodate these trips.

They hire a caregiver who seems to be present most of the time. In the end, the son who is an actor and his wife are able to stop working to move in with Rebecca and care for her.

No story line is going to represent all families and individuals living with dementia. And there are families who have the money and privilege to negotiate Alzheimer’s in the way that the Pearsons did.

But are most families able to negotiate dementia with this level of money and privilege?


Here is what’s left out.

–Struggling to get into see a neurologist and get an accurate diagnosis

–Trying to find a memory care community that is affordable and close enough for family to visit

–Telling a loved one with dementia that it is time for them to move to a nursing home

–Filing the complicated paperwork to apply for Medicaid when your loved one is out of money to pay for nursing home care

–Considering whether or not hiring an in-home caregiver is a financial option and finding the “right fit”

–Discussing whether it’s affordable to visit a parent with dementia across the country

–Struggling to take time off work and talking to human resources about FMLA in order to visit a parent with dementia

This list is not all-inclusive. I am certain that, if you have dementia or have a loved one with dementia, you could add many more.

And this is not to fault the producers and writers of This is Us. They did well.

It’s just to point out that the Pearson were protected from some of the struggles of dementia due to their status and money.

Will I be tuning in Tuesday night for the finale?