Event honors people living with Alzheimerâs Disease
Westborough – Over 100 people were honored by the surprise visit of filmmaker Berna Huebner, who traveled by train to Westborough to attend the screening of “I Remember Better When I Paint” April 13 at the Westborough High School auditorium. Huebner joined distinguished guests Robert Stern, PhD, Boston University School of Medicine, Associate Professor of Neurology and Co-Director, Alzheimer’s Disease Clinical & Research Program and Meg Curtis, wife and caregiver to Skip Curtis, a former Westborough resident who is, among others, featured in the film. It was Berna’s mother, Hilda Goldblatt Gorenstein who spoke the words that inspired the film.
“I Remember Better When I Paint” is a documentary film by Eric Ellena and Berna Huebner, presented by French Connection Films and the Hilgos Foundation and narrated by Olivia de Havilland. It is the first international documentary about the positive impact of art and other creative therapies on people with Alzheimer’s and how these approaches can change the way we look at the disease. Tuesday night’s viewers saw the story of Hilda Goldblatt Gorenstein and others across the United States and in France, who have Alzheimer’s. As they painted, their mobility and speech began to improve, as did their quality of life.
The Westborough screening was presented by the Rotary Club of Westborough’s Community Service Committee and the Westborough Council on Aging in partnership with the Westborough Public Schools. Introducing the evening was Rotary Club Director Carol Burtt Borglund, who said that to her, “the film inspires hope, hope,” she said, “that research such as that by Dr. Robert Stern will continue, hope that storytellers such as Berna Huebner will continue to ask the right questions at the right time and hope that caretakers such as Meg Curtis will be there for all of us. Hope too, that support for the arts will continue through such stories as the film presents, and hope that you, the audience, will be as inspired by this film to help to spread the word, and to spread the hope.”
The feature-length film was followed by the unique opportunity for the Westborough audience to have their questions about Alzheimer’s disease answered directly by the panel of Dr. Stern, Meg Curtis and Berna Huebner. Stern answered scientific questions about how creative activities engage areas of the brain that are not damaged by the disease and thus, reawaken a sense of personality, identity and dignity. He further detailed how stem cell research would not help in fighting the disease of Alzheimer’s and how it is that a person living with Alzheimer’s disease also dies from complications from it. Other questions ranged from the concerns of recognizing symptoms early, to how one may, perhaps, prevent the disease by working with the arts. Huebner expressed that this was her first experience in making a film and told of the challenges of combining arts and science during the filmmaking process. Curtis expressed her concerns about the up-coming Babyboomer generation who will be facing Alzheimer’s, as well as those who may have the inherited gene. She declared her renewed dedication to speak “anywhere” until there is a cure.
The Westborough screening of the film “welcomed home” Skip and Meg Curtis’s family who, after living in Westborough for nearly 20 years, moved 14 years ago. The entire family was in attendance, including Skip, who is living with Alzheimer’s at his New Hampshire residence. The screening reunited the Curtis family with many past Westborough friends who came to give their support to the family and to the film.
There are up-coming screenings in Florida, Huebner said, and “I Remember Better When I Paint” will be aired by PBS in the Washington DC area. The film’s DVD version can be purchased on Amazon,com.
Proceeds from the screening are to be split between local charities and the Skip Curtis Fund at Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Center, Boston University (BU).
For information about the Skip Curtis Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease Research, contact Harriet Kornfeld, BU School of Medicine Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 617- 638-5678.
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