From the community

Cary to Present Alzheimer’s Documentary – ‘The Genius of Marian’

Posted April 25, 2014, at 3:49 p.m.

Cary Medical Center will present the acclaimed documentary film, ‘The Genius of Marian’ as a special 90th Anniversary and National Hospital Week Event, Tuesday, May 13th at 6:30 pm in the Chan Center. The film touches on the heartbreak of Alzheimer’s disease, the power of art and the meaning of family. According the film’s website; The Genius of Marian is a visually rich, emotionally complex story about one family’s struggle to come to terms with the changes Alzheimer’s disease brings. After Pam White is diagnosed at age 61 with early onset Alzheimer’s, life begins to change, slowly but irrevocably, for Pam and everyone around her. Pam’s husband grapples with his changing role from primary partner to primary caregiver. Her adult children find ways to show their love and support while mourning the slow loss of their mother. As she loses the ability to write, Pam’s eldest son, Banker, begins to record their conversations, allowing her to share memories of childhood and of her own mother, the renowned painter Marian Williams Steele who died of Alzheimer’s in 2001.

The film has been selected for 23 national and international film festivals and has won numerous awards including; the Heartland Film Festival Documentary Feature Award, Audience Award Documentary Feature Wood Hole Film Festival, Camden International Film Festival ‘Best Documentary’, and the Washington West Film Festival ‘Best Feature Documentary’.

Bill Flagg, Director of Community Relations and Development at Cary Medical Center said that the hospital has been providing services for Alzheimer’s patients and their families for more than fifteen years and found the film to be a great opportunity to bring the issue of Alzheimer’s to the community at a very powerful level.

“Alzheimer’s is a very tragic and devastating disease for patients and families”, said Flagg who co-facilitates an Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group sponsored by Cary Medical Center and the Aroostook Area Agency on Aging. “The disease robs individuals of their most precious memories and puts great stress on caregivers. The film, ‘The Genius of Marian’, I hope, will bring this issue into the community so that we can look at its impact and how, as a community, we are going to respond.”

More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s disease and more than 25,000 in Maine or 10% of the senior population. The disease effects women more than men and at age 60 a woman’s lifetime risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease is 1 in 6 for breast cancer 1 in 11. The cost of Alzheimer’s has topped $214 Billion Dollars annually and is expected to reach 1.2 Trillion dollars by 2050 as the number of individuals afflicted with the disease will grow to nearly 16 million.

The documentary film ‘The Genius of Marian’ draws on the support of family caregivers and how vital they are to the care of patients. In 2012 some 15 million family caregivers and friends provided more than 17 billion hours of unpaid caregiving valued at more than 220 Billion dollars which is nearly eight times the total revenue of McDonalds for the same year. 2.5 times more women than men are providing intensive, ‘on-duty’ care 24-hours a day for someone with Alzheimer’s. The stress the caregiving places on the caregiver leads to some $9.3 Billion dollars in additional healthcare costs.

“These statistics are staggering’, said Flagg who also has coordinated Cary Medical Center’s Caregiving Training program called ‘The Savvy Caregiver Program’. “We have got to do more to help families who are coping with this incredible stress. As a community and as a nation we must respond before we are completely overwhelmed by the enormous impact of the disease”.

Cary Medical Center has been working with the Aroostook Area Agency on Aging on Caregiver Training and the Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support Group. Sharon Berz, Long Term Care Director for the Area Agency, said that new approaches are going to be needed to help manage the stress on caregivers and to control rising costs.

“Our Caregiver program with the agency, the support group, and caregiver training are all parts of the solution but so much more needs to be done”, said Berz who is a master trainer and instructor for the Savvy Caregiver Training Program. “Sometimes it’s just a listening ear, or a shoulder to lean on but it is clear that given our aging population in the County more programs such as Adult Day Care, more Respite Care, specialty medical services and other responses must be found.”

The showing of the film, ‘The Genius of Marian’ is free and open to the public. Seating in the Chan Center is limited so people are asked to pre-register by calling the office of Community Relations at Cary Medical Center 207-498-1112. Additional information may be found on the hospital’s website at carymedicalcenter.org/marian. The filmmakers that helped make ‘The Genius of Marian’ include: Banker White (Director/Producer), Anna Fitch (Producer, Co-Director), Don Bernier, (Editor), Shaleece Haas (Co-Producer), Chris Riley (Outreach Coordinator), and Britney Roque (Production Coordinator).

Cary Medical Center is a 65-Bed Acute Care Hospital located in Caribou, Maine. The hospital also manages a nine bed Intermediate Care Facility for Individuals with Intellectual Disability in Van Buren, Maine. The hospital offers comprehensive inpatient and outpatient services with advanced diagnostic technology including the regions only full-time Stereotactic Breast Biopsy Center. Cary was the first hospital in the nation to establish a VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic on its campus and is now the home to the clinic, a 40-Bed Maine Veterans Home (Long Term Care Facility), and a 30-Bed Residential Care facility. The hospital was founded in 1924 when Dr. Jefferson B Cary, one of the regions first physicians, at the time of his death, donated a portion of his estate to the City of Caribou to build a hospital. Cary Medical Center is accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations.

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