Much like the character Emunah in my film, my mother had dementia. While she never forgot who I was, she experienced many challenges and difficulties – not understanding what was happening around her, often forgetting where she was and how to complete simple, daily tasks. It was a trying time, and the situation left her scared, frustrated and angry.
As her sole caretaker, I did my best to make her feel safe and comfortable, but as the disease progressed, it became more challenging. Getting her up, bathed and dressed was a daily battle; she often refused to eat and showed little interest in leaving the house. I prayed a lot during those days, but I never gave up, and through it all, we shared many wonderful and heartbreaking moments.
My mother passed away last fall, before I was faced with any decisions about nursing homes. However, I considered it and experienced some of the guilt and anguish that would go along with making that difficult decision. My heart goes out to caretakers that have no other options.
Looking back, I wouldn’t give up that time – the memories are what keep her alive in my mind and heart. Yet I hate what the disease took away - a beautiful, vibrant woman, who loved to read, cook and could beat me any day at Jeopardy. It was devastating to watch her slip away.
After her funeral - suddenly having a lot of free time - I began to research dementia and Alzheimer's. I was surprised to learn that there were so many resources and forms of support that I had never utilized or been aware of. This got me thinking about ways to help other caretakers connect and get help – and as a filmmaker, I decided a movie about dementia would be a good start.
The story Yachatz is based loosely on my experience, as well as the concept that in the end, memories are all we have. They define our past, influence our future and are the fabric that bind us together. Hold onto them, cherish them - and if they start to slip away, make new ones.