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Mandy Moore and Alzheimer's

Mandy Moore and Alzheimer's

On the Set vs. Reality

In her role as the matriarch of the Pearson family in the Emmy Award winning series, This is Us, Mandy Moore has portrayed a newlywed bride, a young mother of three, and now, a grandmother suffering from mild cognitive impairment, a condition that can lead to Alzheimer’s. Besides Moore doing her own research, the show’s production team has gone to great lengths to depict an authentic experience. Producers hired a neurologist to work with Moore on the set showing her, for example, how to realistically fail a clock-drawing test in the episode when her character, Rebecca, is being evaluated. 

In the August 23 issue of Parade Magazine, Moore interviews and discusses some of her on set experiences and what she has learned about Alzheimers with journalist Greg O’Brien. O’Brien is the author of On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer’s, a searing firsthand account of being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s at age 59. O’Brien is now 70.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2016 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, a woman in her sixties is about twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as breast cancer within her lifetime. In other words, Rebecca Pearson is not alone.

Greg O’Brien calls the disease a demon, comparing Alzheimer’s to trying to read at night with a flickering light, “because the plug is not in all the way. You never know when you are going to have a good or bad day,” he says. “You’re on, you’re off, you’re on, you’re off.”

O’Brien explained how, in the beginning, he was in complete denial. “That is why early diagnosis is so important,” he says. Early diagnosis gives you, your family and your support system time to digest the diagnosis, and gather the information and strategies needed to live with the disease. The Alzheimer’s Association suggests that in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, it is important to find ways to engage in activities that bring meaning and purpose to life.

Moore agrees. “It’s so important to have an increased understanding of our own brain health, the way we think of heart health or any other body part we want to make sure is intact for the long haul.”

“People say that you look great but inside you are no longer the same. Concentration is difficult and you start withdrawing more and more,” added O’Brien. He also advises finding ways to laugh. “You don’t want to be a total train wreck.  Break it up with some Larry David-type of humor.  If the person with dementia can laugh, it gives the green light for people to laugh with her.”

Learn the early warning signs of dementia. For more information go to:

  • www.usagainstalzheimers.org:  Us Against Alzheimers is a nonprofit community dedicated to finding a cure, sharing resources and techniques to maintain brain health. Mandy Moore serves as the national ambassador to the Be Brain Powerful campaign, an effort to empower women to take control of their brain health.
  • Listen to The On Pluto Podcast which chronicles O’Brien’s journey, available on itunes and other platforms.
  • Visit the Alzheimer’s Association website (www.alz.org) to learn more about the warning signs and treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • To watch a video and see how Mandy shakes off the heavy subjects the show covers visit parade.com/moore
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