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The Woman Behind the Julianne Moore 'Still Alice' Performance

Posted by on 3/6/2015 to Dementia Education
Recently Alzheimer's disease awareness scored a big win as actress Julianne Moore won an Oscar award for her portrayal of a woman with younger onset dementia in the movie 'Still Alice'. Julianne had help to prepare for the role - straight from a woman living in Minnesota, who is living with this condition herself. 

A Patient's Story - Living with Younger Onset Alzheimer's Disease

Sandy Oltz is a 50 year old former surgical nurse. She began having trouble with her memory and her tasks on the job 5 years ago. She forgot to pick up her son from school and got lost finding her way home. After leaving her job for safety reasons, it took another year of medical investigation to get the diagnosis of younger-onset Alzheimer's disease. Sandy has since spent time as an early stage advisor for the Alzheimer's Association and belongs to an active Memory Club with her husband and other couples in the same situation. And then came her behind the scenes but powerful role of advising Hollywood actress Julianne. Questions the two addressed together included:
  • How do you get dressed?
  • Do you still run alone?
  • What does it feel like to get lost?
Only by talking with someone who actually deals with these situations on a daily basis could an actress hope to portray even a piece of their reality. I applaud Julianne Moore for doing due justice to her role and for the acclaims she received for her work.

And I doubly applaud Sandy, for her courage and power, even as she deals with this disease. She continues to be active, working part-time and caring for her sons. And she continues speaking out. Her message? 

People with Alzheimer's disease
 “are struggling. We’re not suffering. Anybody is susceptible to this disease...we are still people. And we can still contribute.

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