February 18 marked National Caregivers Day. Local resident and movie producer, Pat Moffett, is raising awareness about the challenges of being a caregiver through his award-winning film Ice Cream in the Cupboard.
About 40 million Americans serve as unpaid caregivers to an adult over 18 years of age—that’s 17% of the population. The stress involved in being a family caregiver can be quite high and many caregivers ultimately end up with health problems of their own.
Pat Moffett understands these challenges on a very personal level. Pat cared for his wife for several years after she was diagnosed with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s. Ultimately, due to the violence associated with her illness, it was necessary for her to move to a skilled nursing facility where she later passed away. Her case is one of the most violent cases of Early-Onset Alzheimer’s disease on record.
Following Carmen’s death, Pat wrote the true story of their romance and their journey through her illness in his book, Ice Cream in the Cupboard. The book was made into a film and was selected over 6500 films from around the world at the Rhode Island International Film Festival where it won two awards. Ice on a number of streaming services including Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Apple iTunes. Recently the film was also picked up by multiple international airlines. This month, Ice Cream in the Cupboard is being released as an audiobook.
Ice Cream in the Cupboard provides insight to the general public on the reality of being a family caregiver and Early-Onset Alzheimer’s. Despite the heavy subject matter, the film is entertaining—romantic, poignant, and even funny at times.
“I was not prepared to become a family caregiver—almost no one is,” said Pat. “It is an unexpected challenge that nearly anyone could face at some point in their life. I hope to bring awareness and empathy to those in the caregiving position.”
The film helps families, friends and professionals new to the experience of dementia, especially Early-Onset Alzheimer’s. Pat works to educate professionals in “first responder” positions like medical professionals and law enforcement on Early-Onset Alzheimer’s and dementia. Early-Onset Alzheimer’s is particularly challenging because its victims are young. Pat’s wife Carmen was in her early 50s when she contracted the disease. Early-Onset Alzheimer’s is genetic—Carmen’s two sisters and brother all contracted EOS in their 50s and died in their 60s as she did.
“It’s important that law enforcement and medical professionals understand that a person with Early-Onset Alzheimer’s can appear perfectly normal but, in fact, what they are saying has no basis in reality,” said Pat Moffett. “The disease can also cause them to become very violent, as was the case with Carmen.”
Early-Onset Alzheimer’s affects people younger than 65 and affects around 200,000 Americans—however, diagnosis and awareness are difficult hurdles to get past.
As a spokesman, Pat gives many interviews on the subject of dementia and most importantly, from his perspective, helps to give a voice to the millions of caretakers around the world.
For his outstanding work, The Long Island Alzheimer’s and Dementia Center recently granted Pat the honor of being their Spotlight Caregiver Advocate. Pat was recognized in front of his peers and gave a short, moving speech about his work.
“I think she would have been proud of me,” Pat said of the award, referring to his late wife.
About Pat Moffett
Pat is a native of Queens. He was born in Ridgewood and subsequently resided in Great Neck and today lives in Deer Park.