Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Jane Krakowski has been open about her family, most recently revealing her son’s affection for RuPaul’s Drag Race. This week she’s telling a much more serious tale, detailing her late father’s battle with dementia.
Jane is speaking out on behalf of the AARP’s $60 million Disrupt Dementia campaign, an initiative focused on resources for families and caregivers as well as research. Her father, Ed, was diagnosed with early onset dementia. After dealing with the disease for almost a decade, he passed away two years ago. Jane told People she decided to share her story now because “I decided it would be a nice day to speak about the memory of my father and what we personally went through, if it would help others who are going through it as well.”
As her father’s health began to deteriorate from the disease, Jane said, “My mother [Barbara] was the main and sole caregiver of my father through most of the years, until she needed additional help at the very end.” She added, “In many cases, I think it is as hard or sometimes even harder for the caregiver during this process — to take care of a loved one who is suffering with dementia.”
She stressed that even though she and her brother joined her mother in caring for her father, community resources were also essential in surviving this difficult period, noting, “I think looking towards your community is a great way to get support through this process. And of course, the main focus of our family’s plight was to try to help my father and alleviate what he was going through through all the different stages.”
Ed’s diagnosis came as a surprise to the family. No one thought that Ed, a smart, well-educated man, could fall prey to the disease. Jane addressed this:
“One of the misconceptions, I think, is that if you use your brain daily, perhaps you won’t be diagnosed with it or it wouldn’t happen to you. And my father taught himself piano, he taught himself magic, he worked as a chemical engineer during the day.”
“He used his brain to a great degree in all facets of his life and was physically active as well,” she continues. “So you just never know when and who it could happen to. And the numbers are staggering, so it’s happening to a lot of people.”
On Monday, Jane was on the TODAY Show in advance of her appearance later that day with Katie Couric at the #DisruptDementia event at Neuehouse. In the interview, she acknowledged that the Bill Gates Foundation donated $100 million towards the AARP’s research efforts and again spoke about her father’s experience with the disease, recalling:
“It’s heartbreaking for the people who are aware of the amount of the decline in the patient—from them not remembering your name or whether it’s you when who came through the door. My father and I used to dance and sing together all the time and—this was very near the end—I was able to get him physically up (he was wheelchair bound at this time) and we just danced a little to the music and he lit up again like the days that I remember. Those are the moments that just carry you through, and I felt like I brought a little bit of light and the remembrance of the love that we had together in that moment.”
As someone with elderly parents, this story really hit home for me. I want to give them both a hug now, because we don’t have them forever. I’m glad that Jane is sharing her story and I hope this AARP initiative finds a cure for this devastating disease.
It was moving to speak with #JaneKrakowski this morning about her father’s struggle with dementia. Today @AARP announces their commitment to #DisruptDementia with a $60 million investment in @TheDDFund to support urgently needed research into dementia prevention and treatment. pic.twitter.com/0xSzyCrdsL
— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) June 25, 2018
Photos: Getty Images, WENN.com