Art of Aging: Helping others to cope with caring for a dementia patient

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Caring for a dementia patient can take its toll on the caregiver, but a local insurance agent turned filmmaker is sharing his experience to help others cope.

Ross Schriftman is on a mission to share his personal care-taking journey by hosting screenings of his film, "My Million Dollar Mom" across the Philadelphia area.

"My mom was the greatest inspiration in my life. She was a wonderful mom," he said.

When his mother, Shirley, was 79, Schriftman started noticing signs of dementia, including forgetfulness.

"And that was the beginning of realizing that there was something wrong," said Schriftman.

"My mom had the Alzheimer's form of dementia," he added.

The film closely mirrors what was happening in Schriftman's life at the time.

He'd always dreamed of being in politics, but instead of running for office, he spent two years caring for his mother.

"And people said that must have been really tough, but there was a lot of joy in caring for her," added Schriftman.

He continued, "My Million Dollar Mom" started as a book, a memoir to honor her after she passed in 2009. It was made into a short film in 2018."

Schriftman hosts post-screening discussions at senior living communities, like Kyffin Grove, to educate caregivers dealing with similar challenges. He worked with the Dementia Society of America to develop the program.

Joyce Coleman, Life Enrichment Director, Kyffin Grove said, "A lot of times families feel that they are in this alone, and it's very important for us all to know that there are a lot of people that are affected."

"I want to give courage to the caregivers that they can get through this, don't try to do it all yourself, find the joy in the moments," said Coleman.
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