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Spotlight on devastating diseases at the Oscars

I’ve heard a lot of criticism about this year’s Oscars regarding the lack of racial diversity of the top nominees. But from my perspective, there was quite a bit of diversity when it came to showcasing people living with debilitating diseases. For image-conscious Hollywood, and its obsession with being forever young and perfect, I think this was a big step in the right direction that is being overlooked.

Of course, with my main focus on Alzheimer’s, I was thrilled to see Glenn Campbell’s final song receive an Oscar nomination. I’m not a Tim McGraw fan, but he did a beautiful and sensitive rendition of the song. Gwyneth Paltrow introduced McGraw and talked about Alzheimer’s.

BSM Studio/Sony Pictures Classic

BSM Studio/Sony Pictures Classic

Julianne Moore, as expected, won best actress for her portrayal of a woman with early-onset Alzheimer’s in “Still Alice.” I was thrilled, as she is one of my favorite actresses. She researched and spent time with those who have Alzheimer’s so she could deliver an authentic performance. During her acceptance speech, Moore talked about making Alzheimer’s more visible to the general public so we can raise awareness.

But there was more than just Alzheimer’s represented at the Oscars. The equally devastating disease, ALS, was also in the spotlight. Not only did the best actor award go to Eddie Redmayne, who portrayed the famous physicist Stephen Hawking in “The Theory of Everything,” but Richard Glatzer, one of the directors of “Still Alice,” is living with ALS. In fact, Moore mentioned during her acceptance speech that his condition prevented him from being at the Oscars.

So to many, the Oscars may have been boring and lacking in diversity, but for those of who have been touched by one or both of these terrible diseases, it was a night to remember.

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A devastating look at caregiving

I’ve always been a big fan of film director Michael Haneke’s work. He makes films that are emotionally brutal and can make the viewer uncomfortable, because even in the darkest moments, we may catch a glimpse of ourselves in his films. Haneke’s movies are not everyone’s cup of tea, but for those who are involved with caregiving of an ill family member, “Amour” is essential viewing.

Copyright: Sony Pictures Classic

Copyright: Sony Pictures Classic

The movie has earned many awards and accolades, and is nominated for best film at the Oscars. Both of the lead actors are in their mid-80’s and offer amazing performances. The story is deceptively simple. A long-married couple faces upheaval when one of them becomes ill. For any of us who have been family caregivers, the roller coaster of emotions is displayed quite realistically in this film.

As the film progresses, the side effects of the wife’s illness begins to take greater hold over their lives, making both of them more desperate as they valiantly attempt to preserve their loving relationship. I won’t spoil the ending, but bring some tissues.

While the film is certainly a stark, sobering and heartbreaking look at family caregiving, there are some beautiful and tender moments of love displayed throughout the movie. I think anyone who has ever been a family caregiver will be able to relate to the new world that is formed when a loved one becomes ill.

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