“As our family was living through this experience and trying to figure out how we could give Mom the care she needed, we asked ourselves, how on earth were others coping with this?” asked Severna Park resident Daphne Glover Ferrier.
That question led Daphne and husband Bob Ferrier, both award-winning filmmakers, to others and ultimately to the production of their latest and most personal film, “SPENT: The Hidden Cost of Dementia,” which explores the economic and emotional impact that this terrible disease has on families and on society as a whole.
The Alzheimer’s Association reports that 5.7 million Americans are living with some form of dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. Following its current trajectory, it is estimated that by 2050, 14 million Americans will have Alzheimer’s and the cost of care will top more than $1 trillion annually. That’s $18.3 million every hour.
Dementia is a broad spectrum of symptoms that affect cognitive functions like memory, reasoning, or communication. Chances are that virtually every person knows someone with dementia, cares for someone with dementia, or they themselves will develop dementia.
Daphne never thought too much about dementia. She and her family members had health insurance. Surely that would cover the costs of any medical crisis they might encounter.
“It started with forgetfulness. She didn’t remember conversations we’d had,” Daphne said of her mom, Betty, who started to exhibit symptoms of dementia in 2012. “Then she got lost driving to our home. My mother got delusional, and there were too many things that could no longer be explained away. We had to face it.”
Betty Glover was diagnosed with vascular dementia in April 2013. By June of that year, she could no longer live alone. Daphne, Bob and Daphne’s two siblings found a loving facility for their mother, but during their research, they learned that the cost of treating a medical condition is different from the cost of caring for someone with dementia.
“My siblings and I were fortunate to have the financial means to pay for Mom’s care, but I kept coming back to questions like, ‘What if I was an only child? What if I was a single mother supporting young children?’” asked Daphne. “While a very difficult topic to discuss, Bob and I really felt that as filmmakers with a background in public health films, we could and should make a film which helps bring awareness around this issue.”
For families like the Glovers, the health care system in the United States isn’t as reassuring as one might believe.
“If someone has cancer or heart disease, as examples, traditional health insurance will pay for the operation, the medicine or the treatments that may prolong that person’s life,” said Daphne, “but there is no cure for dementia. All we can do is keep our loved ones safe and take the very best care of them as we can. And long-term care isn’t something covered by health insurance.”
Bob said, “It’s like losing someone long before they’re gone. The financial burden is profound and it falls squarely on the families.”
Daphne and Bob own production company Backfin Media. They have traveled the world, using film to capture global and domestic issues. In 2016, the duo began planning “SPENT” and they were shooting by January of 2017. They have the support of a powerhouse experts and advisory board made up of world-renowned economists and financial experts, scientists, and public health and aging professionals. The film is approximately 40 percent filmed and a trailer has just been released, but they need additional sponsors to help underwrite the project to completion.
“We are working with Maryland Public Television to bring this film to a national public television audience,” said Daphne. “Once it airs, it will also be made available to community organizations for outreach activities.”
Daphne and Bob said that “SPENT: The Hidden Cost of Dementia,” follows the experiences of several families from around the country. The film examines the micro-level family impact of dementia, as well as the macro-level on the economy as a whole.
“The cost of dementia is having an effect on our world economy,” said Daphne. “When people start leaving their jobs to stay home and care for the 48 million family members with dementia, that is a huge number of people exiting the workforce and that will continue to have tremendous ramifications to the global economy.”
Betty Glover passed away in 2016.
“I wish I had known what to look for, what to be aware of or what paperwork to have in place,” said Daphne. “Most importantly, I wish I knew how to live with someone with dementia and make it a positive experience for the whole family.”
The Ferriers hope this film will provide the guidance families so desperately need. “This is not an easy topic to discuss,” added Bob. “Telling this story is definitely hitting a nerve, but it’s a story that needs to be told.”
“SPENT: The Hidden Cost of Dementia,” is expected to be released in 2019. For more information or to watch the trailer, visit www.spentdementia.com.