December 23, 2009

Ed Kashi interviewed about Sandwich Generation

Harvard's The Neiman Storyboard recently interviewed Ed Kashi, focusing on the TEM produced film, The Sandwich Generation. The interview dives into Ed's mindset at the time, in exposing himself and his family in such an intimate, personal way.

"I’m not into navel gazing...[but] I realized we could either focus the project on ourselves, or we could pass on it. I thought we should give it a shot."

Click here for more information and links to the film The Sandwich Generation.

LA Times Discloses ER Wait Times

Can you guess what these activities have in common: Reading a Marquez novella, flying from NYC to London, driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco, walking the NY marathon and waiting to see a doctor in a South LA emergency room? They can all take about 7 hours to accomplish. If you're in an L.A. County ER the wait time is 12 hours, according to an unpublished report by the Hospital Association of Southern California and reported by Kimi Yoshino for the LA Times.

At a time when the country is poised to enact health care reform legislation, it's alarming that emergency room wait times seem to be increasing, rather than getting better. As we continue working on FIRESTORM, we'll be tracking issues related to emergency medical care, bringing needed attention to ER problems falling under the radar with the goal of contributing to improving conditions.

December 21, 2009

Another Strayer University student essay

Thank you again to Strayer University's Professor Abramson and her Intro. to Sociology class for sharing their Losing Herbie essays. Below, Nakisha Patterson discusses the film and the devastating effects of dementia.

This reflection essay is about Herbie, an elderly man who is in the last stages of dementia. In this short film Herbie’s family focused on making his last days as productive as possible. As I reflected back on the film, the following three things stood out: living with dementia, caring for a loved one with dementia, and expressing feelings or emotions associated with elderly family members.

Three aspects to consider

Dementia is a cognitive disorder that deprives the mind and body by causing long term decline in cognitive function. This disease effect the ability to process thought patterns. In the short film, my thoughts of a person living with dementia made me feel sad. I felt sad, because the short film explained how Herbie’s life was before acquiring the disease and then living with the disease. Living with the disease really changed his life. Herbie went from; vibrant and smooth to not knowing what he was doing at times or where he was at.

Imagine caring for a person with dementia like Herbie, knowing him before and after the disease takes a hold of his body can be hard to deal with. One must be cared for, as though; they are an infant or in the beginning stage of life. Bathing, feeding, and assisting them with everyday tasks. Herbie forgot how to do everything, which; really affected his loved ones. In the video Herbie’s girlfriend was unable to handle this situation. Caring for him was too much for her to handle.

Dementia affects everyone associated with the patient including the grandchildren and the in-laws. It has to be hard, seeing your loved one deteriorate before your own eyes. The emotional roller coaster that his daughter went through, had to be very stressful. In the video, Herbie’s daughter had a tough time juggling; work, kids, husband, and her father Herbie. Sometimes she made herself sick, by stressing so much.

When it comes to feeling as though you are losing a loved one to dementia, it is important to remember the good times you had with them. Understand that things will change, and remember that this disease is out of their control. This video was put together, so that; one is able to determine how to care for a person with dementia and possible outcomes that might arise that effects everyone in the family, who attempts to care for family member with Dementia. It takes a lot of time and patience but most of all the love and passion that should never be lost.

- Nakisha Patterson

December 16, 2009

"Losing Herbie" hits close to home for Strayer Univ. student

Strayer University sociology professor, Terry Abramson, asked her class to write an essay on our film Losing Herbie. Below is the first of the five student essays that we will be posting here on our blog. Please welcome our first student, John Washington.

The purpose of this essay is to inform the reader about my personnel reaction to the video entitled "Losing Herbie". This essay will convey my feelings about the three subject matters that struck me the most as I reflected on the video. I have first hand experience with this subject matter, as I am the son of an Alzheimer’s victim. I use the term victim to express Alzheimer’s disease as a thief who has yet to be caught.

I realize that this essay is to be written about the three most shocking issues that stand out to me in the video but this topic hit me too close to home to only write about the video. I must say that I was not emotionally or geographically prepared to watch this video. I was not emotionally prepared due to the fact that this essay is the most communication about this issue that I have participated in since my mother’s death from complications of Alzheimer’s disease on September 28, 2007. 20 days after my birthday.

I was not geographically prepared because my internet service has been temporally interrupted; however I found a solution to this problem at my second job. In exchange for computer time in the back, I help my fellow sports bar co-workers with their clean up duties at closing while they manage my area. Someone always goes for the deal because they get to keep my tips.

As soon as I realized what the video was about I stopped it because I could feel suppressed emotions beginning to work their way to the surface and I didn’t want my co-workers to see my reaction. My eyes began to get glassy and my nose started to run just from watching 2 or 3 minutes of the video. Damn! I thought I was done with that part of my life. I never thought I would have to write about it. I decided to watch a little at a time while moving back and forth from work to the video until I got through it.

Finding out

Watching the "Losing Herbie" video for the first time made me think about the very first time that I witnessed my mother’s disease in action. In 2002 I took a vacation to visit my Mom at her home in Asbury Park N.J. While at her home she said she wanted to speak to someone about a bill she was disputing with a local heating and air company who claimed to performed work on her furnace.

While we were sitting in the office of the heating and air company, my Mom vehemently claimed that the service technician had never been to her home and that she had never seen him before and therefore was not paying this bill. Her testimony was so convincing that she had everyone in the room convinced that there must be some kind of mistake about who the bill was sent to and the home the work was performed in.

The manager decided to call the technician who was in the field at the time and asked him to come to the shop. When the technician arrived, he confirmed that my mother was definitely the home owner and in fact she offered him some pistachio ice cream, which also happens to be the only ice cream my mother ever bought home as far as I can remember. At this point I’m thinking to myself, how could he have known about the ice cream?

His statement was so shocking to her that she got up and as though her life depended on it, yelled “you’re a liar”! I still remember how confused I was when the technician described the front room, kitchen and basement area of her home to me.

That was the first time that I knew something was terribly wrong. I convinced her to let me take her to the hospital the next day. They told me that she had been transported to their facility before, because she had become lost while trying to drive home. A copy of her records indicated that she had been diagnosed with dementia in 1995. The only thing I knew about Alzheimer’s disease at that time was that it had something to do with memory loss for elderly people.

Effect on the family

My Second thought about the video was about the level of stress and frustrations that were evident within the family. There are forces that will rip at the fabric of Herbie’s family as the years tic by. I feel like most people who make the decision to take care of a parent with Alzheimer’s don’t really know how it will affect their current lifestyle. I consider myself to be someone who thinks about a problem and then develops steps to solve the problem. In my opinion there is no way for any family to be half way prepared to handle a task of this magnitude.

Long Term care and death

In 2003, I moved my Mother in with my family, this was the third issue the grabbed my attention in the video. We had a 7 and 8 year old boy and girl that needed a lot of attention in school, sports and at home. My wife and I both worked full time jobs and the kids were in sports all year. I felt like the family in the video was very much like my family when in it came to allocating time and resources to Herbie.

The strain on the family budget will become the topic for many late night arguments. There will be bills that will progressively grow larger as the disease progresses. At one point in time I could barely afford the $15 dollar registration fees to get my kids into the seasonal sport because I was spending so much money on my Moms medication.

After my Moms death in 2007, it’s clear that only one half of my family recovered. The kids bounced back with energy, while my wife and I still have not fully recovered from ill feelings of past conversations.


I’m willing to bet that when Herbie’s family found out the bad news about her dad having Alzheimer’s disease they begin to search for all the information they could find on the subject, without devoting too much time to the hunt for information they soon find that they were dealing with a criminal that prays on people from all walks of life. They soon find out that this criminal works slow and steady until he robs his victims of every brain activity that is needed to maintain life.

There are no winners in this battle to hold on to a loved one. The family and the patient take the brunt of this storm head on, and when the clouds clear there are only casualties left to sort through the debris.

I would wager a bet that says regardless of faith, race, or culture. That if a person could see a one hour film summarizing what their life would be like when faced with the onset and final outcome of Alzheimer’s. That 90 out of 100 people would say “I want to be euthanized when I reach a particular stage.”

- John Washington

December 15, 2009

Welcome back Strayer University students!

Last April, we posted essays from Professor Terry Abramson's “Intro to Sociology” class at Strayer University. Professor Abramson incorporates Losing Herbie (part 2 of The Sandwich Generation) into her class curriculum by first having her students watch the film and then by having them write an essay about it.

This semester, the students were asked to write an essay describing the three things that struck them the most when watching the video. Below are excerpts from five students' heartfelt essays. We will post the five essays (in their entirety) over the next few weeks.

Student 1: I have first hand experience with this subject matter, as I am the son of an Alzheimer’s victim. I use the term victim to express Alzheimer’s disease as a thief who has yet to be caught....Watching the “Losing Herbie” video for the first time made me think about the very first time that I witnessed my mother’s disease in action.

Student 2: Dementia is a cognitive disorder that deprives the mind and body by causing long term decline in cognitive function. This disease effects the ability to process thought patterns. In the short film, my thoughts of a person living with dementia made me feel sad. I felt sad, because the short film explained how Herbie’s life was before acquiring the disease and then living with the disease.

Student 3: Throughout the entire documentary the first thing that stood out to me was the emotional journey each family member experienced. Starting with the aging father we were immediately shown how bad his dementia was and when asked a question about what town he lived in, he earnestly answered “I surely cannot remember.”

Student 4: Watching this video hit home for me because I was caretaker for my mother before she died. She died in December 2007 from Lou Gehrig’s Disease/ALS. Losing a loved one is never easy, but taking on the responsibility of caretaker can be even more challenging.

Student 5: After watching Herbie I immediately felt this sense of despair. What would happen to me if I were diagnosed with Dementia? Could my children handle caring for me each and every day as Herbie’s did? The anxiety struck me beyond belief.

So welcome Strayer University

and thank you again to Prof. Abramson and her students!

December 11, 2009

The NYTimes on Military Psycho-Therapy

A recent article in the New York Times caught our attention. In it, James Dao and Dan Frosch examine doctor-patient confidentiality (or lack thereof) in the United States Military psycho-therapy services.

At the beginning of psycho-therapy sessions, soldiers are asked to sign a waiver "explaining that under certain circumstances, including if he admitted violating military laws, his conversations with his therapist might not be kept confidential."

“There really is no confidentiality,” said Kaye Baron, a psychologist in Colorado Springs who has been treating soldiers from Fort Carson and their families for eight years. “You can find an exception to confidentiality in pretty much anything one would discuss.”

It's so bad, that some Military defense lawyer's recommend their clients avoid Doctor's and instead talk to their Chaplain's, because "the privilege rules on their communications are stronger than for therapists."

This creates a lack of trust between the soldier's and the therapists, and prevents them from truly opening up about the horrors of war and how it effects them. It does not take much to draw a line between the ineffective counseling services soldiers are receiving while in the military, and the mental problems that then plague them the rest of their lives, whether they are still active duty members or discharged.

For more on the effects of PTSD on soldiers who've returned home, check out our short film series The Inner Wounds of War.

Below is a short video we created for Purpose Prize '09 Winner Dr. Judith Broder, who created and runs The Soldiers Project, an organization which provides unlimited, free, confidential therapy to combat veterans.

December 4, 2009

In Memory of Henry Liu

On the behalf of Talking Eyes Media, it is with great sadness that we announce the death of 2009 Purpose Prize winner Henry Liu, who was killed in a car accident Tuesday.

TEM got to know Henry during the filming of his Purpose Prize video in August 2009. He was not only an extraordinary person, dedicated to changing the world through his "green" inventions, but Henry was also an especially kind and friendly man. Although I didn't have the chance to meet Henry in person, I was lucky enough to experience his warm and jovial personality through the phone.

Henry's love and passion for his work and "encore" career was as clear as day. During his interview, Henry said that he wouldn't be done working until the last day of his life....and, by the big smile on his face when he said this, anybody can tell that Henry not only meant it but that he would have no regrets about it as well.

Talking Eyes Media extends our deepest condolences to Professor Liu's family and colleagues.

November 23, 2009

A Beautiful Reaction from Motherrr's Blog

Barb from Motherrr!’s blog shares:

“I know that when my dad was dying and we were all there holding his hand and talking to him up until the end, my oldest girlfriend and I promised that we’d be there for each other and would hold each other’s hands…not really thinking through the practicality of not both being able to do that!”

She wrote this in reaction to The Sandwich Generation, and her revelation is touching to say the least. Any discussion, reflection, or learning experience brought away from our work is a validation of all the effort spent on it. This paragraph is so heartwarming because it’s moments like these that make us really cherish what’s around us. She concludes her post understanding that time spent with aging parents can be a gift, and that there is an ongoing life lesson in every affair.

Please go to Motherrr!'s blog and read this astonishingly candid blog. The insights that can be found there really are worth the time, if only to remember how important family can be.

November 20, 2009

Purpose Prize 2009 Winner - Connie Siskowski

Memories of caring for her grandfather as a pre-teen - giving him medication, even bathing him - often return to Connie Siskowski. She learned firsthand that managing the well-being of relatives at a young age leaves little time for homework or friends and brings stress no child should experience. Her own background guiding her, Siskowski started an organization in Palm Beach County, Florida, that facilitates support groups in middle schools, offers classes on life skills, and provides other resources to ease some of the responsibility and give young caregivers the chance to be kids.

November 19, 2009

Purpose Prize 2009 Winner - Ann Higdon

Ann Higdon knows the despair of going nowhere. Homeless as a kid, she grew up with no love for learning and little hope. It took just one teacher's kind words to drive Higdon to try harder and finish school. Through the years, she has convened a chorus of professionals to similarly inspire high school dropouts in Dayton, Ohio. Higdon's organization, which includes three charter schools, helps area dropouts earn their diplomas while training for jobs in health care, construction, computer operations, and manufacturing.

November 17, 2009

Purpose Prize 2009 Winner - Marcy Adelman

As some of her friends approached old age, Marcy Adelman worried they would have no place to go without fear of discrimination and loneliness. Through her research, the psychologist appreciated the trials of aging within the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community. She saw the group was less likely to have children to care for them or senior housing that welcomed them. Adelman and her partner set out to meet the need by providing affordable, LGBT-friendly housing and eventually training service providers to better support LGBT elderly in the San Francisco Bay Area.

November 12, 2009

Voice Your Opinion on Health Care to Harry Reid

Senator Harry Reid is conducting an informal survey about which aspect of health care reform matters most to us. It's critical that we voice our opinions at every opportunity to our elected leaders, so please take a moment to text your response. Just use your cellphone and pick one of these options:

What's the most important aspect of health insurance reform?

TEXT A to 42779 for:
Making sure people with preexisting conditions can get affordable insurance

TEXT B to 42779 for:
Prohibiting insurance companies from dropping people when they get sick

TEXT C to 42779 for:
Creating a public insurance option to lower costs by creating competition

TEXT D to 42779 for:
We should not reform health insurance, status quo is ok by me

TEXT your answer (A,B,C or D) to 42779 (HARRY) to vote

The only caveat is that you'll automatically be registered to receive mobile updates from Reid's campaign in the future (which you can also opt out of).

Purpose Prize 2009 Winner - Henry Liu

Henry Liu turned poison into possibility. The former engineering professor found a way to transform fly ash - a toxic byproduct of burning coal - into bricks that look and function like the old standards made of clay. The innovation not only removes a harmful substance from the environment, but the related manufacturing process requires less energy, is cheaper, and doesn't contribute to air pollution or global warming. Now that the bricks have been licensed for production in 11 countries, the Missouri-based scientist is working to find out a way to move freight more efficiently through underground pipelines.

November 11, 2009

We Honor Our Troops

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, the conflict on the Western Front of World War I ceased. Regrettably the celebrations have become more meaningful as the number of conflicts and, inevitably, unnecessary tragedies have grown.

We celebrate our veterans, the work they have done and the bravery they show when they put their lives on the line. But it seems at times we neglect to recognize the struggle they face after their return. Enlistment and service can become a lifelong commitment for those who have suffered the traumas of war.

In 2008, the Discovery Military Channel's website released a video of ours addressing the troubles and triumph of retired Sgt. Juan Arredondo: his recovery after a tragic explosion that resulted in the loss of his left hand and a great deal of his calf muscles. In memory and appreciation of our soldiers, please view this video, pass it along and remind those around you that the perils of war follow our soldiers beyond the battle field.

Purpose Prize 2009 Winner - Judith Broder

As Judith Broder watched a play documenting the mental anguish some veterans experience after coming come from war, something clicked. As a psychiatrist, she knew that without help some soldiers would never get past what they had seen and done. She also understood that a veteran's distress can painfully affect loved ones. Taking action, Broder created an organization that supports free, confidential, unlimited therapy to service members and their families.

November 10, 2009

Purpose Prize 2009 Winner - Timothy Will

Tim Will saw that his adopted community - chosen for its stunning beauty - was decaying. Manufacturing jobs, the Appalachian county's economic base, had moved elsewhere, and the area lacked the infrastructure to support new business in a technology-driven world. So Will used his telecommunications background to connect the North Carolina county's agrarian past to a digitally supported future. After getting the rural area wired (no small feat), he linked local farmers and chefs in the nearest big city through an online ordering system, bringing laid-off factory workers back to farming and lifting the area's economy.

November 6, 2009

Purpose Prize 2009 Winner - Don Coyhis

Don Coyhis felt emptiness in sobriety. He found himself going through the motions at support group meetings, disconnected from the reasons why he shouldn't drink. Searching for understanding, he turned to his Native American roots. During a five-day fast in the Colorado mountains, Coyhis saw a white bison rise from the ground - to him, a sign that his recovery would be incomplete without his culture. Coyhis founded a nonprofit offering native-focused recovery resources to communities across the country, and in turn, launched a movement called Wellbriety.

November 4, 2009

Purpose Prize 2009 Winner - Duncan Campbell

One night when Duncan Campbell was 3, he went looking for his parents. Police found the couple at a bar. Through boyhood and adolescence, Campbell felt he was raising himself. Somehow, he fought against his disadvantages and eventually established a successful investment firm. Now, he's investing in children. His national organization looks for kids "who have accumulated the most heartache and trouble," promising them a caring adult in their lives from age 5 or 6 until they approach adulthood themselves. The mentors are paid professionals, not volunteers, helping to ensure quality, consistency, and commitment.

November 3, 2009

Purpose Prize 2009 Winners - Stephen & Elizabeth Alderman

The death of their son on 9/11 brought Elizabeth and Stephen Alderman merciless grief. Soon afterward, they learned in a news report that a billion people around the world had experienced severe trauma. The Aldermans could relate. They understand: Suffering is suffering. To honor their son and to treat living victims of trauma and terrorism, they created a globally focused foundation that helps create homegrown mental health systems chiefly in Africa, where violence of all kinds - rape, war, kidnapping, the unspeakable - has desecrated communities.

November 2, 2009

Purpose Prize 2009 Winner - James Smallwood

This weekend the San Francisco non-profit organization Civic Ventures held their annual Encore Careers Summit, where they introduced to a very large crowd the winners of the 2009 Purpose Prize. Talking Eyes Media produced a short video for each of the winners, traveling all over the United States this fall to meet and film the recipients. Along the way we met many wonderful people doing amazing things with their second or third (or fourth!) careers.

In honor of the Summit, we'll be posting a video a day to our blog, so that you can get to know the winners a little better. If you want to see all the videos right now, head over to our website where we have a special page devoted to the Purpose Prize winners. To read more in depth information on each winner head over to We'll start off today with the first winner we filmed, James Smallwood from Camden, NJ.


James Smallwood was homeless, drug-addicted, and bug-infested. Knowing he might die on the streets, he got himself into a rehabilitation center and promised God that he if got clean, he would help others. Smallwood beat his cocaine dependency and is now fulfilling his vow through a nonprofit he created to serve ex-convicts, drug addicts, and the homeless in Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey. The organization trains program participants for work in the construction trades, while helping them with reading, math, and job-hunting skills. and Huffington Post on "Denied"

More responses are coming in to our short film Denied that published last week. picked up the story, commenting "It manages to expose just about every fallacy the enemies of reform like to spread, from supposed safety nets to the horrors of socialized medicine."

Also included in their post is an introduction to Army of Women, a group who "aims to eradicate breast cancer by changing the face of breast cancer research."

Sheila's story was brought to an even wider audience after The Huffington Post published a summary of the film and posted the video on their site. Check it out and leave a comment.

October 29, 2009

From Election Day to "Labor Day"

Labor Day, the new film by Oscar nominee and our colleague Glenn Silber, opens tomorrow (October 30) in NYC & Chicago. Watch how one union's mobilization and thousands of activists' ensured the Democratic victory in the 2008 Presidential campaign.

But the film is only in selected theaters for one week only....
so make sure to mark your calendars!

October 28, 2009

How many lives are enough?

Within minutes after published our film, Denied, about Sheila Wessenberg, my phone rang with a call from abroad. It was a frustrated American who has found himself exiled from his own country because his child got sick. He is a health care refugee, an American who now lives in Japan where his son, who is on life support, is able to receive all the care he needs without bankrupting his family. It was a complete contradiction to his experience stateside. After his two-month-old son suffered a series of seizures and was put in an induced coma to quell the seizures, the father was told to take his infant home and allow him to die. The family refused, and has since traveled the globe seeking experimental treatments and a sympathetic health care system. Their son is now 12.

"America has a system where the elites are profiting but they deny children a chance to live healthy," he said to me. He then recounted a conversation he had with a Japanese colleague who asked 'how can America expect anyone in the world to trust what it says when its own children can't trust it to take care of them?'

Please explain to me how any politician debating health care reform in Congress can choose to deny citizens access to health care with a clear conscience? And how can anyone who ostensibly represents the voice of the people justify filibustering as an acceptable course of action?

How many Sheila Wessenbergs have to die before we get genuine health care reform?

Our short film, Denied, on the Daily Kos

Yesterday MSNBC ran our short film Denied on the front page of their web site. Today the responses are pouring in.

The Daily Kos writer Sven Eberlein (citisven) weighed in with his thoughts on both the film and the current health care debate.

Raising Women's Voices is as outraged as we are at the injustice done to Sheila and her family and want you to share your thoughts as well.

Within minutes of the film being posted on MSNBC, Julie received a call from a father in Japan, an American forced to leave the country to save his newborn son's life after a series of medical horror stories. Look for a future post from Julie for a more in-depth examination of his case.

Sheila's story is touching people in many different ways, all across the globe. If you have a story of your own to share, send us an email or leave it in the comments.

October 27, 2009

TEM & provide a "Dose of Reality"

Today Talking Eyes Media published a video on about a woman with breast cancer who struggled to survive without health insurance. Sheila Wessenberg and her family went from living a middle-class life with health insurance to joining the 47 million uninsured Americans. Sheila's story could happen to anyone and shows the critical need to both promote breast cancer awareness and to fix America's health care system.

Talking Eyes Media urges you to watch this one woman's struggle to survive breast cancer....and her even bigger battle to survive without health insurance.

Watch: When Death is the Only Way Out of Medical Debt

October 26, 2009

News from Paris! Kashi wins Prix Pictet 2009 Commission Prize!

On Thursday, October 22, Kofi Annan (former Secretary General of the U.N. and Honorary President of the Prix Pictet) awarded this year's Prix Pictet Award to British-based photographer Nadav Kander and the 2009 Commission to our very own Ed Kashi!

The Prix Pictet is an annual search for photographs that communicate powerful messages of global environmental significance under a broad theme. The theme for this year's prize was "Earth," and Ed's portfolio for Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta was honored with being one of the 12 talented photographers under consideration for the 2009 Prix Pictet Award.

Ivan Pictet, Senior Managing Partner of Pictet & Cie said, "On behalf of the Partners of Pictet; I am delighted to announce that we have selected Ed Kashi as the photographer to fulfill Pictet's annual commission related to our charitable activities, this year in Madagascar, a country with a remarkable ecological heritage under threat and one of the poorest countries on earth."

Each year Pictet & Cie supports the work of a charity whose work reflects the theme of the prize; for 2009, Pictet & Cie will support Azafady, a UK-based charity and Malagasy-registered NGO. Ed Kashi has been commissioned to visit Madagascar with Azafady in order to produce a series of photographs that will highlight the issues of land degradation and desertification. The commission will also result in a traveling exhibition and printed catalogue.

The prize is also complemented by the Prix Pictet 2009 publication, Earth. Published by teNeues, Earth includes the work of the 12 shortlisted artists and others nominated for the 2009 prize. The full portfolios of each shortlisted artist will be shown at the Passage de Retz gallery in Paris from October 23 to November 24. The Prix Pictet will then tour to other international venues from late 2009 to early 2010.

Click on the following links to learn more about Prix Pictet and the Madagascar Commission:

Prix Pictet 2009 - Press Release

Prix Pixtet 2009 Commission

Financial Times article on Prix Pictet

October 20, 2009

October 8, 2009

And the Countdown Begins

The Senate Finance Committee's health reform bill seems to have been resuscitated with the announcement by the Congressional Budget Office yesterday that the cost of "America's Healthy Future Act," will amount to $829 billion over ten years. The bill even extends an increase in the amounts paid for ambulance services from December, 2009 until January, 2012. This may satisfy some of the EMS professionals we are working with to develop a public education and outreach strategy for FIRESTORM. I'll share more about this work soon.

Considering $2 trillion is currently spent on health care annually, and $810 billion is reportedly wasted in the system annually, $829 billion (over 10 years) seems like a paltry sum and should not be a stumbling block to passage. There are some in the Senate, however, who may be willing to try. Jonathan Cohn's blog post about Mitch McConnell's aversion to getting any legislation through gave me a chuckle, but alas, this really is no laughing matter, is it? Let's hope the Republicans seize this opportunity to rise above the politics and make health care accessible to millions more Americans.

From the NY Times: "In its analysis of the Senate Finance Committee bill, the budget office said a proposed expansion of Medicaid would add $345 billion to federal spending over the next 10 years. State Medicaid spending would rise by $33 billion, as 14 million people would be added to the Medicaid rolls. The other big federal cost would be subsidies totaling $461 billion over 10 years, to help low- and middle-income people buy insurance."

The measure is hardly ideal as it will provide insurance coverage for about 29 million of the 46 million uninsured OVER 10 YEARS.

From the CBO Director's blog: "By 2019, CBO and JCT estimate, the number of nonelderly people who are uninsured would be reduced by about 29 million, leaving about 25 million nonelderly residents uninsured (about one-third of whom would be unauthorized immigrants). Under the proposal, the share of legal nonelderly residents with insurance coverage would rise from about 83 percent currently to about 94 percent."

The Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill next Tuesday, October 13.

October 1, 2009


As I read (with profound disappointment) reports that the Senate voted down two amendments that would have added a public option to the Senate Finance Committee’s health reform bill, I was reminded of this story published in The New York Daily News on Monday. Dr. Frank Huyler wrote the story and he recounts treating a woman in his emergency room who had waited 11 hours to be seen. The woman suffered from a few chronic illnesses, which she had been managing with a private doctor before she was layed off and lost her insurance. Now uninsured, her doctor dropped her. She went to the ER complaining of chest pain and to have her prescriptions re-filled.

Dr. Huyler determined that the woman’s symptoms required a cardio work-up and admitted her and ordered routine tests. The patient was released the next day and her tests were thankfully negative. Not seeking a free ride, she duitifully met with hospital social workers to work out a payment plan. She was handed a bill...for $10,000.

In stories like this the identity of the patient is necessarily kept private. But this woman’s anonymity underscores for me the faceless and voiceless throngs of uninsured Americans who will face bankruptcy or even death because they cannot afford health insurance. Tens of millions of Americans lack insurance and their plight seems trivialized by a congress focused more on appeasing special interests than on protecting the rights of citizens. While lives hang in the balance our lawmakers are determined to protect the integrity of the private insurance industry. Yes, a public option, which is essential, may eventually sink private insurers. What’s so vexing is that our elected officials are unwilling to face down greedy corporate interests and face up to their responsibility as guardians of the public interest.

Interesting Factoids:

63% of physicians support public and private options (NPR)

More people believe in UFOs (34%)(AP Poll) than oppose a public option (26%) (NY Times)

Take Action

If you're in New York tomorrow - appear as an extra in a MoveOn ad starring Heather Graham! The ad will pit the actress against lazy Big insurance companies and the Public Option in a track meet race. Friday, October 2, 12pm-2pm

Location: The Red Hook Running Track at Red Hook Recreation Area. Meet at the corner of Hicks and Bay Street at noon sharp.


Are your elected officials on these committees? Call, fax or email them with your thoughts.

September 10, 2009

Firefighters on the front lines of medical care delivery

We have been in the trenches documenting some unfortunately common and absurdly archaic health care stories, which we are pulling together into a series of films to be broadcast and webcast in the near future. One of these films is a documentary called FIRESTORM, a one-hour film, (which has advanced to the second round for finishing funds from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting-funded ITVS/LINCS fund). FIRESTORM follows the firefighters of Station 65 in Watts, Los Angeles and reveals the little-known fact that firefighter/paramedics are on the front lines of delivering health care to the poor, uninsured and underinsured, some of whom mis-use 911 for transport to emergency rooms for treatment of non-urgent medical conditions.

FIRESTORM reveals the depth of the crisis in emergency medical care in Los Angeles. Eleven hospitals have closed in five years and paramedics transport as many as 500 people to ERs every day, many of whom could be treated by primary care physicians. Not surprisingly, this situation plagues EMS workers across the country. Most recently the NY Times reported on the dysfunctional system in the nation's capitol where more than 80% of firefighters' runs are medical, rather than fire-related, just like in LA.

August 19, 2009

Current Project: the Purpose Prize

Ed and videographer Peter Trilling are currently working on a series of 10 multimedia shorts for the Purpose Prize. This project is being produced by the Talking Eyes Media team for Civic Ventures. This is a wonderful example of non-profits working together to create rich media for expanding great causes. Ed and Peter have been compiling interviews and stills on the finalists for this prize, which celebrates the decisive change some Americans have made, from being ordinary men and women to life-impacting social entrepreneurs. The final pieces will be completed and released in late October, when the winners are announced.

August 5, 2009

FIRESTORM - Coming Soon from Talking Eyes Media

View the trailer for FIRESTORM here

Talking Eyes Media has been toiling away and is happy to share the trailer for FIRESTORM - a one-hour documentary that examines
Los Angeles' rapidly unraveling health care safety net from the perspective of LAFD paramedics. With behind-the-scenes vérité, candid interviews and punctuated with stunning still images by Ed Kashi, FIRESTORM follows the paramedics of Los Angeles' station 65 in South LA, where 911 has become the speed dial for an ailing healthcare system.

LAFD Cutting Services

I was horrified to see yesterday's LA Times report about the LAFD cutting back on paramedic services. During our time in LA shooting for our latest film, Firestorm, we witnessed the Fire Department functioning as a safety net for people who have no access to health care. Over the past few decades, the role of fire departments across the United States has shifted, leaving them with less fires to fight and more health services to deliver. Without sorting out the health care debacle in this country and finding a way to provide universal coverage, it will be catastrophic to reduce ambulance and paramedic resources.

Check out the LA Times story here:

July 2, 2009

NPR: Triptychs, Technology & Ed Kashi's Archives

National Public Radio's Claire O'Neill did a wonderful piece on Three, just posted today.
Lots of great images, a multimedia piece, and a nice review complete with interview.

Here's the link:

NPR: Triptychs, Technology, and Ed Kashi's Archives

June 22, 2009

Student's Thoughts on "Living With Herbie"

Here is another touching essay on "Living with Herbie," written by a student at Strayer University. Thank you to Prof. Abramson and her student for sharing this with us.

Sadness. How could anyone be anything but sad after watching this video? I noticed tears coming to my eyes almost immediately. I stopped and thought, wait, I am a man…I am not supposed to be crying! But, how could I help myself from tearing up? Studying a disease like dementia means nothing until you put a sweet old man’s face to the condition and what it is doing to his family. I have studied dementia before and its effects, but that twelve minute video did more for me than an entire unit in class. The effects that the disease has had on Herbie’s daughter, Julie, on her family, and on Herbie, himself, were the most impactful parts of the video.

In the video, Julie said, “You have to look at care giving as a marathon, not a sprint.” The sacrifice that she is making for her father is remarkable. She recognizes that she will not stop at anything to provide the care that he needs for a better quality of life. She sacrifices time spent with her children, her husband, her friends, and time spent on herself in order to take care of him. I think that the fact that she does not hesitate to do so, and the fact that she is so committed to dedicating herself to whatever time he has left is admirable.
The commitment that Herbie’s son-in-law is making to his wife and to Herbie is also commendable. I was grateful to see that he was honest in the video. It must be so frustrating at times and anyone can see that he is nervous that life might turn out a certain way that he cannot help but become agitated. I am sure that some of his anger stems from that apprehension of growing old and from knowing who Herbie was before the onset of dementia. The honesty that he displays in the video had a huge impact on me, especially when he said, “What will happen when I can’t do twenty push-ups anymore?” I think it is a real fear that people face when they age. However, he stays committed to allowing Herbie a warm home and a beautiful family with whom he can spend his remaining days.

Finally, the impact that has had the most lasting effect on me was how much this must affect Herbie. In his moments of clarity, I wonder what he thinks about his situation. I wonder if he is looking down from the afterlife and feels appreciative or if he feels guilty? It must be such a struggle for someone who, as his girlfriend Ruth said, was as at one time “very, very savvy, and sophisticated,” to realize that he no longer is. It was easy to watch Herbie in the video because is a nice looking man who seems so sweet and sincere, but it was very hard to watch what this man had obviously become.

The effects that this debilitating disease has had on one family made me stop and think. The video gave me a ton of questions that I want answered. It made me wonder how many people would do for their loved ones what this family has done for Herbie.

June 19, 2009

THREE, the multimedia piece

I am thrilled to have my new book featured on the New York Times' blog, LENS, but I want to make sure people look at the moody and magnificent piece that my wife, Julie Winokur, produced as a multimedia companion for the book. The idea of triptychs that formed the book THREE grew from what was really an idea for a print. To transform that initial vision into book form took reinterpretation of the original idea. To create THREE the multimedia piece was a further interpretation of my original idea. Please take a look and if you like it, pass the link on. One of the musical pieces was created by our 11 year old daughter, Isabel, so I am proud of it on multiple levels. Watch, relax and let this piece take you somewhere else.


June 12, 2009

Ed Kashi will be teaching a Documentary Photography Workshop in Colorado in August

Greetings from my last day in the Niger Delta, finishing up on a new film here. I want to mention that I'll be teaching a documentary workshop in August in Fort Collins, Colorado for The Center For Fine Art Photography. I recently juried their photo contest and am looking quite forward to visiting their center and teaching this 3 day workshop. While there I will also be giving a public lecture. If you plan to be in the neighborhood or live close by, please sign up.

Colorado Workshop Info

June 9, 2009

Our broken health care system MUST be mended

Decision Makers Differ on How To Mend Broken Health System

By Ceci Connolly
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Nowhere else in the world is so much money spent with such poor results.

On that point there is rare unanimity among Washington decision makers: The U.S. health system needs a major overhaul.

For more than a decade, researchers have documented the inequities, shortcomings, waste and even dangers in the hodgepodge of uncoordinated medical services that consume nearly one-fifth of the nation's economy. Exorbitant medical bills thrust too many families into bankruptcy, hinder the global competitiveness of U.S. companies and threaten the government's long-term solvency.

But the consensus breaks down on the question of how best to create a coordinated, high-performing, evidence-based system that provides the right care at the right time to the right people.

During eight years in office, President George W. Bush took an incremental approach, adding prescription drug benefits to the Medicare program for seniors and the disabled and expanding the number of community clinics nationwide. President Obama, like the last Democrat to occupy the White House, contends that was insufficient and is pushing for an ambitious reworking of the entire $2.3 trillion system.

Framed by President Bill Clinton 16 years ago as a moral imperative to deliver health care to all, this summer's historic debate comes against a more urgent backdrop. As the national unemployment rate nears 10 percent and giants such as General Motors crumble, the expensive, inefficient health system has deepened the country's economic woes.

By virtually every measure, the situation has worsened.

Today, about 46 million Americans have no health insurance, so they go without or wait in emergency rooms for expensive, belated care. Everyone else helps pay for that Band-Aid fix in the form of higher taxes and an extra $1,000 a year in insurance premiums.

Pockets of medical excellence dot the landscape, but at least 100,000 people die each year from infections they acquired in the hospital, while 1.5 million are harmed by medication errors. Of 37 industrialized nations, the United States ranks 29th in infant mortality and among the world's worst on measures such as obesity, heart disease and preventable deaths.

Bright young physicians trained at prestigious and expensive universities enter a profession built on perverse financial rewards. They, like assembly-line workers of the past, are paid on a piecemeal basis, earning more money not by doing better but simply by doing more.

Yet more care rarely translates into better health. Extensive research by Dartmouth College has found the exact opposite: Health outcomes are often best in communities that spend less compared with cities such as Boston and Miami where the medical arms race of specialists and high-tech gadgets often leads to greater risks and injuries.

The Institute of Medicine estimates that one-third of all medical care is pure waste, such as duplicate X-rays, repeat lab tests and procedures to fix mistakes.

"Most Americans don't understand how bad health care in the United States is," said Michael F. Cannon, head of health policy at the libertarian Cato Institute. "We need big reforms."

Across the ideological spectrum, the diagnosis is remarkably consistent.

"Sure, some people here have the best health care in the world, but the average American is paying too much and not getting enough in return," said John D. Podesta, who led Obama's transition team and heads the Center for American Progress, a think tank.

Said Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.): "What's tragic is that so much of this spending is on duplicative or unnecessary care that doesn't improve health outcomes."

Simply put, the goal of health reform is to finally get our money's worth, say industry leaders, policymakers, consumers and business executives.

They envision a health-care system that guarantees a basic level of care for everyone, shifts the emphasis to wellness and prevention, minimizes errors, and reduces unnecessary and unproved treatment. Such a system would coordinate care, track patients and doctor performance electronically, and reward good results. The high-value system of the future would be organized "so that people get the care they need and need the care they get," said Elizabeth A. McGlynn, associate director of the health research division of Rand Corp.

Nowadays, that is often not the case.

On average, Americans receive the recommended, proven care 55 percent of the time, according to Rand studies. Sometimes, doctors or nurses overlook a basic but critical step, such as prescribing a beta blocker medication to patients after a heart attack, a therapy shown to significantly reduce the risk of a fatal attack. At other times, patients undergo procedures when there is no evidence that they are any better than a simpler, cheaper alternative.

Ten years ago, in its landmark report "To Err is Human," the Institute of Medicine estimated that 44,000 to 98,000 people die each year from medical mistakes, highlighting the need for improvement. Since then, the tally has risen, said Janet Corrigan, president of the National Quality Forum, a nonprofit membership organization that promotes quality standards.

"We now know estimates of those who die from hospital-acquired infections is upwards of 100,000," she said. "Many of those, if not most, are avoidable and preventable."

Sen. Robert C. Byrd's recent hospital stay, for example, has been extended because the West Virginia Democrat developed a staph infection.

"Everyone agrees that hospitals are hazardous to your health," said Mitchell Seltzer, a consultant who advises large medical institutions. "For every day a patient is in a bed, they are subjected to a higher probability of medical errors, hospital-acquired infections, inappropriate tests that do not have a direct bearing on the medical condition being treated."

Part of the problem is cultural, said Rand's McGlynn.

"People tend to demand the new thing even if there's not much evidence it will make a difference in the length or quality of life," she said.

Few patients or physicians have any idea who delivers good, or bad, care, because few organizations track results. Consumers have more information to evaluate their cars than they do their surgeons.

"It's like a doctor flying the plane without instruments," said James N. Weinstein, a spine surgeon who directs the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.

Obama set aside $19 billion in his economic stimulus package to promote the use of digital records, on the belief that they reduce duplication, produce more consistent care and cut down on errors.

Because the fee-for-service payment system rewards quantity over quality, there is little incentive -- and there are even disincentives -- for doctors, nurses and hospitals to improve, Corrigan said.

"Is it a surprise we have lots of extra imaging tests and lab tests?" she said. "Not at all."

The consequences are especially glaring in regions with larger numbers of specialists and pricey technology, the Dartmouth data show.

Take the case of Miami vs. La Crosse, Wis. In 2006, using inflation-adjusted figures, Medicare spent $5,812 on the average beneficiary in La Crosse, compared with $16,351 in Miami. Yet an examination of health status in both places, adjusted for age, finds no evidence that the extra spending resulted in better care, Weinstein said.

"That's the enigma here," he said. "Less is more, and more isn't better."

Physician behavior and spending patterns in Medicare have been good indicators of broader trends across the nation, Dartmouth has found.

Even the best physicians cannot stay current with all of the drugs, tests and treatments available today -- another reason to digitize modern medicine, Corrigan said.

Many fear that the push to contain costs will result in rationing.

In today's system, "we don't ration care, we ration people," said Donald M. Berwick, president of the independent Massachusetts-based Institute for Healthcare Improvement. "We know that if you are black and poor or a woman, there are all sorts of effective interventions you are not going to get."

Though the transition would be painful and the politics treacherous, Berwick said it is possible to spend less on medical care and have a healthier nation.

"If we could just become La Crosse, think of how much better off we would be," he said.

The original article at The Washington Post

June 4, 2009

Medical bills cause personal bankruptcy

According to a new report by the American Journal of Medicine, medical bills are involved in 60% of personal bankruptcies in the United States. If you're still not convinced that our nation's health care system is in dire need of a major overhaul, then how about this fact: More than 75% of these bankrupt families HAD health insurance!

Click on the links below to learn more about the AJM study.

April 23, 2009

The Final Strayer University Essay....

Thank you again to Prof. Abramson's Intro. to Sociology class at Strayer University for sharing their essays. Here is the final essay that we will be posting:

Student 3:

This Video was very impressive to me, it basically took me to a different level that made me think about how my parents were there for me when I needed them, and now someday they are going to need me. And the question I keep asking myself is what am I going to do about it? In the video the three things that touched me the most was: the children, the daughter and Mr. Herbie.

First, I would like to express my feelings about the children. The children played a very important role in Mr.Herbie’s life, they were like his medicine. They interacted with him by dancing, singing, brushing his hair, kissing and hugging him and also talking to him. The children made Herbie feel young again. This is a very special time in the children’s lives as well as Herbie. They will always remember the times they spent with their grandfather. It’s a special kind of blessing being able to be there for your grandfather. A lot of children never even meet their grandfather, never the less help take care of them and be in their lives. With Herbie in their lives this makes them more responsible and educated on the matter that their grandfather has a terrible illness called dementia and he don’t have much time on this earth. So every minute they spend with him is priceless. And that they need to get to know their grandfather.

Next, there is Herbie’s daughter who is a very smart and caring person, what she did I really admire her. Not all people are mature enough to handle a situation like that. Herbie is so lucky to have her as his daughter. She didn’t send him away and sell his house for his money. But instead she sold the house and took him in and used the money on his medical care which is awesome. Some children just wait until their parents are dead and gone and sell their house for their use only, and that’s bad. Even though she didn’t know how much of a hassle things were going to be, she still stuck her foot out there and made it happen. There were days when she wanted to just give up, but she hung in there and that’s what counts.

Last, there was my buddy Mr. Herbie, I instantly fell in love with him. Herbie was a very fragile and sweet person. He was suffering from dementia and could no longer take care of himself. Herbie really touched my heart he reminds me of my own father, once a healthy, smart and hardworking man providing for his family and living his life to the fullest. But suddenly gets ill. When I looked at Herbie I saw a person who wasn’t ready to give up on life. Herbie enjoyed and loved his grandchildren, his daughter, the caregiver, his son-in-law and his girlfriend. When Herbie died it was very emotional for me, it felt like I knew him.

In concluding, I have made up my mind. As a parent and daughter I will take my parents in and care for them like Herbie’s family cared for him. On Herbie’s last days I know that they were special knowing that his family surrounded him and that they took very good care of him. So with that in mind I know that Herbie went in peace.

April 21, 2009

Another Strayer University Essay....

Student 2, from Strayer University's Intro to Sociology class, questions Julie and Ed's decision to take care of Herbie at home. Student 2 writes, "Does she feel that way because her Father is surrounded by people who love him? Perhaps she feels that love is one of the better medicines out there, and that with Herbie being around people who love him will help him stay alive longer."

Student 2:

Losing Herbie is a short film that illustrates the joys and struggles of a family taking care of their elders when their elders can’t take care of themselves. Herbie, an eighty four year old man, is suffering from dementia, and his family has taken him in to their home to see that he is taken care of. His family consists of his daughter, son in law, and two grandchildren, all with their own part in helping Herbie throughout the day. While watching this story, a few things jump out at me that I find interesting.

The first thing that strikes me when I watch the film is when the daughter of Herbie says, “I have no questions whatsoever, that having Herbie live here means he’s getting the best care he can possibly have”. This quote strikes me because there are possibly other places that Herbie could live that he would get better attention and care, one being a nursing home. The assurance in her voice, though, proves to me that she believes what she is saying whole heartedly. Does she feel that way because her Father is surrounded by people who love him? Perhaps she feels that love is one of the better medicines out there, and that with Herbie being around people who love him will help him stay alive longer. Another theory of mine is that Herbie’s Daughter is afraid to lose him, so she wants to keep him around her as much as possible before he passes.

Another thing that pops out at me while watching this film are the children and the environment they have to live in. The two grandchildren of Herbie, one grandson and one granddaughter, are now living with an extra body that has to be taken care of by their parents. Herbie probably requires more attention, seeing as he can do fewer things for himself than the children. This means that the kids are getting less attention by their parents than they probably should. The son and daughter, even though they seem to notice the lack of attention, take it very well. They help out around the house, and seem to be very good to their Grandfather. These kids are being forced, in a sense, to act much older than they really are, and have to put the being kid stuff on hold to help take care of their Granddad and help out around the house. The question can be raised, what effects, long term and short term, will this have on the children? Will this help them become stronger people or will this situation cause them to have issues such as abandonment, trust, or self respect. Being in a home where the parents have to take care of someone else over their children has to be rough on the kids, and even though they show no signs of any problems now, one has to think about if this is actually helping or hurting these children.

The last thing that grabs my attention while watching Losing Herbie is the stress level that everyone seems to be under. The Daughter of Herbie said herself, “If I gave up my work to make all of our lives calmer, I would be suicidal.” This stress level in the house has me asking the question, what effects will this high tension have on the entire family? How will this affect the marriage Herbie’s daughter and son and how will it affect the children. With stress levels so high, and everyone running around trying to do their part, this family has to be worn out, not only physically, but emotionally. Taking care of the elderly is no small task, and this family didn’t realize what they were in for. We really don’t get to see an ugly side, where the family is fighting or arguing, all that much. Maybe there is no ugly side just yet, but this family is so on edge, that there are bound to be problems ahead for the marriage and the relationship with their children.

Losing Herbie is a classic tale of any average family trying to balance life. When something so big as taking care of an older relative comes into the mix, that balance becomes much harder. This film shows the stresses and the joys of any family in this situation struggling to keep the balance in their lives without going insane. This family may look like they are keeping a good balance, but questions can still arise about the long term effects of what it is like to be Losing Herbie.

April 20, 2009

Strayer University Student Reflects

Again, thank you to Strayer University's Professor Abramson and her Intro. to Sociology class for sharing their essays on Losing Herbie.

This student's personal account with dementia provides a unique perspective to the topic of caregiving.


The video clips of losing Herbie was an eye opening experience that I was not ready to face however, one day I could be in the same situation as Herbie or his family. “Dementia affects about 1% of people aged 60-64 years and as many as 30-50% of people older than 85 years. Many people with dementia eventually become totally dependent on others for their care”. (Dementia) Growing up I always said I would never put my mother in a nursing home no matter what but after seeing all of the responsibility that comes with caring for someone with dementia makes me think twice. To watch someone you love decline and not be able to care for their self nor make a sound decision is sad. “It is the leading reason for placing elderly people in institutions such as nursing homes”. (Dementia)

One thing that struck me the most was how courageous and tolerant Julie was in taking care of her dad. In spite of all the responsibilities associated with taking care of him Julie was determined to stick it out because she made a promise to him and because she loved him so much. It was evident at how much she loved him because she could have easily given up or placed him in a nursing home because he became unaware of what was going on around him and would have never known what she has done. I have such a close relationship with my mother and I would want to do the same for her. I love her so much but will I be able to endure to the end as Julie did is a question I asked myself. I am an only child and the idea of raising my children while caring for my mother who would have infant like qualities in an adult body scares me. “I was asked if sibling relationships suffer when a parent has dementia. Often, siblings have varying opinions about how to deal with decisions they are faced with at the present time, as well as those down the road.” (Dementia) Would I be looked upon as selfish if I could not sit around and watch my mother decline or watch the lady I admire the most in this world slip away. On the other hand after working in a nursing home I could not image placing her in a facility that I consider depressing.

I was a bit surprised that his lady friend did not want to care for him but after seeing him decline and not having that spark she was use to I totally understand her position in caring for him. My husband and I share such great times together and trying to image being in that position to have to care for him or even watching him not be able to hold an intelligent conversation is completely mind boggling. However, because of the love we share and in my current state of mind I would have to remember the vow’s we took until deaths do us part and stick it out with him.

Julie’s husband was in agreement in the beginning and after seeing what he was faced with started feeling a bit of resentment towards Herbie. I love my in laws but I feel a little selfish because I would want my husband to be in agreement with me in taking care of my mother. However, I am not sure I would agree with him wanting to do it for his mother. He has other sibling and I would want one of them to take the responsibility. I would probably use the excuse that I am an only child and I do not have options as he does. I would be willing to help out but I would not want the full responsibility of taking care of his mother. “There can be family conflict and less cohesiveness. Yet, sometimes on this journey families come to a place where they say the disease has brought them closer than ever.” (Dementia)

I use to work at a nursing home when I was a teenager and it was easy to get attached to a lot of the elderly folks. However, I remember a time I was afraid of the people who suffered with Alzheimer’s and dementia because you never knew what to expect from them. It made me depressed watching families come and visit their love one and how hurt they appeared to be watching them decline. I also reflect on a time when the head nurse smacked a patient in the face and made her nose bleed because she could not tolerate the patient’s behavior. Although the patient had symptoms of dementia she was able to remember what happened to her. I was glad the nurse was charged with assault, locked up and her nursing license was revoked. However, dealing with this stressful situation could result in such behavior and a fear what may happen if someone lose their patience. This is the main reason I could not place my mother in a nursing home because she could not receive the love we would give her at home. I thank Julie for allowing us to see how much responsibility it would be caring for your parent and for keeping her promise to care for her dad although he was unaware of what was going on, I believe it made a difference.