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Glen Campbell, filmmakers show strength in making Alzheimer’s documentary

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LeadingAge President and CEO Larry Minnix said he believes the Oct. 19 LeadingAge screening is the largest one to date, with tickets purchased by more than 4,000 people (tickets were included as part of full paid registration to the annual meeting of not-for-profit aging services providers, and additional tickets were sold for $95 each as well). The documentary was a highlight of the meeting for many.

The filmmakers “had no idea what kind of hoopla we’d be creating in a meeting like this,” Minnix told members of the press the next day. ‘They’ve been wowed probably as much as we’ve been,” he added, noting that this is the first formal involvement the national association has had with the entertainment industry. LeadingAge, the filmmakers and the film’s other supporters now are trying to leverage the interest, he said.

Additional showings are planned throughout the country (you can see dates at the film’s website). LeadingAge members and what Minnix referred to as “sympathetic partners” also will be holding screenings of the film across the United States, and LeadingAge invites its state-level affiliates and others to arrange for viewings—or, alternatively, buy all of the tickets for one night at a theater at which the film already is scheduled to be shown—and include panel discussions and other activities to spread the word about individual, family, organizational and societal struggles related to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

The documentary’s effects will extend beyond the theaters in which the film is shown, however.

"What Magic Johnson did for AIDS, we hope Glen will do for Alzheimer's." James Keach“This project has turned into something bigger for us,” Keach said, announcing the formation of the I’ll Be Me Alzheimer's Foundation at the LeadingAge screening. The charity will aim to restore the spirit of caregivers, collect funds for a cure and create events to raise funds for those in need, he said.

Also, the excess footage from shooting—Keach said the filmmakers accumulated more than 1,300 hours of footage for what ended up being a two-hour documentary—contains many “teachable moments” that will be used to educate senior housing and services providers’ staff members and generate discussion among physicians, direct caregivers and family members of those with dementia, Minnix said. “We think the whole thing has a lot of legs to it,” he told members of the press Oct. 20. The organization will be announcing specific plans in the coming weeks, he added.

The fight for caregiver support and a cure for Alzheimer's isn't done yet, but people like Glen Campbell, his family and the makers and supporters of this film are joining those previously in the depths of battle, inching us along out of harm’s way. And that takes true grit.

Click the image (left) to see photographs I took at the star-studded documentary screening event at the LeadingAge annual meeting. Watch the official trailer for the film below.


Lois Bowers

Lois Bowers


Lois A. Bowers was senior editor of Long-Term Living from 2013-2015.