TV Show “This is Us” Tackles Dementia

Read Time: 4:38
Published: Aug 25th, 2020
TV Show “This is Us” Tackles Dementia

It was season three when the character Rebecca Pearson on NBC’s popular TV series “This Is Us” started having what she thought were senior moments. During season four, more hints that the character, played by actress, Mandy Moore , might be losing her memory. 

If you are a fan of the show you might remember that during the episode that aired on November 12, 2019, Rebecca was taking photos of everything on her phone. However, when she lost her phone she became distraught and seemed not herself. The question became, was this Alzheimer’s or just something else?

Now in season five, Rebecca Pearson’s fate is revealed. The character is suffering from a mild cognitive impairment that could lead to Alzheimer’s. 

Many people are unaware of the many forms of dementia that humans suffer from and the increased risk we face as we get older. Dementiais the leading reason many people require long-term care services at some point in their lifetime. 

Rebecca Pearson - This is Us

Quoted in Parade magazine, Mandy Moore says people need to be more aware of cognitive decline.

“The statistics boggled my mind. Women in their 60s are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as they are breast cancer—5.7 million people have it [in the United States], two-thirds of them women! Sixty-three percent of the unpaid caregivers in this country are women, and they bear all the burden and stress. I want to stand on the roof with a bullhorn and tell the world we need to be talking about this,” Moore said.

In a February 2020 episode, the character was told she was probably in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease based on her MRI results. Like many people who get diagnosed with some form of dementia, she told friends and family not to treat her any differently.

What is MCI?

According to the Mayo ClinicMild cognitive impairment (MCI), which on the TV show Rebecca Pearson has been diagnosed with, is the stage between the expected memory decline that comes with getting older and a much more severe cognitive decline of dementia. MCI involves issues with memory, language, thinking, and judgment that are greater than normal age-related changes, according to Mayo.

Increasing forgetfulness is normal with the aging process, but dementia is not part of the normal process, and if you or a loved one is experiencing memory loss you should seek help from your doctor. The symptoms of MCI include:

  • More frequent forgetfulness
  • Forgetting important events or appointments
  • Losing your train of thought
  • Being overwhelmed by making any decisions
  • Getting lost of not knowing where you are in familiar places
  • Being more impulsive or showing poor judgment

Your family and friends will typically notice these changes in your behavior, but sometimes they fail to say or do anything about the changes. 

A person with MCI will feel more anxiety, and they may have more apathy than in the past. They sometimes will exhibit more aggressive behavior and be irritable. Often, it leads to depression.

Consequences of DementiaImpact Family and Finances

According to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI), a national education and advocacy group, Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia are the leading reason for LTC Insurance claims. 

"If you live a long life, the likelihood of dementia or Alzheimer's increases exponentially, and the importance of having some Long-Term Care Insurance in place is vital," states Jesse Slome, the executive director of the AALTCI.

Slome says that long-term care planning needs to begin well before there is the risk of needing care. 

"Far too many people call the Association once their parent has been diagnosed with some condition and their doctor suggests they look into insurance," Slome explains. "Unfortunately, even physicians don't understand that Long-Term Care Insurance is only available to those who can still meet health qualifications and pass cognitive assessments."

Health Insurance and MedicareWill Not Pay for Most Extended Care

Traditional health insurance, including Medicareand supplements, will not cover the cost of long-term care; however, it will cover care planning with a medical professional, according to the Alzheimer's Association. 

The problem is traditional health insurance never covers the substantial amount of supervision and other help with daily activities that come with long-term care, including the care required from dementia. 

Planning in advance to prepare for the financial costs and burdens that come with aging and other health and accident issues is key to a successful future retirement. The cost of extended care, either in a person's home or in a facility, is staggering, even if you have a lot of assets.

You can find the current and future cost of long-term health care, including memory care, by using the LTC NEWS Cost of Care Calculator by clicking here.

Remember, experts say you must have reasonably good health to qualify to obtain Long-Term Care Insurance since policies are medically underwritten. The best time to plan is when you are in your 40s or 50s.

"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," actress Moore explained.

"This Is Us" chronicles the Pearson family across the decades: from Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) as young parents in the 1980s through today. Season five is set to return to NBC-TV in the fall of 2020.

About the Author

Linda is a former journalist who now enjoys writing about topics she is interested in so she “can keep her mind active and engaged”.

Editor's Note

The problem of long-term care is both a cash flow issue and a family issue. Preparing your family and finances for the financial costs and burdens associated with long-term health care is key to enjoying a successful future retirement.

There are many resources available on LTC NEWS that help educate you about the options available to you for safeguard savings and income and reduce the stress on your loved ones. As you prepare for your future retirement, better consider the physical, emotional, and financial burdens that get placed on you and your family.

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LTC News Contributor Linda Maxwell
Linda Maxwell

Contributor Since
December 11th, 2017

Former journalist who now enjoys writing about topics she is interested in.

About the Author

Linda is a former journalist who now enjoys writing about topics she is interested in so she “can keep her mind active and engaged”.

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