“This Is Us” Actor Shares Alzheimer’s Experiences

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Alzheimer’s Disease has long tentacles. It has impacted the world of actor Jon Huertas — both personally and professionally.

Huertas is part of the talented ensemble in the highly popular television series “This Is Us.” He stars as Miguel, second husband of the Pearson family matriarch Rebecca (Mandy Moore), who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s last season. Season Five premiered this week.

In real life, Huertas’ father-in-law exhibited symptoms of Alzheimer’s within the last few years of his life before passing away.

He spoke of both experiences recently in an interview with alz.org, the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. And he also addressed the working environment in our COVID-19 universe.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is going to be brought into the new season as well, and viewers will have to wait to see exactly how this is approached,” Huertas said.  “This Is Us” was designed for things like this — bringing the challenges of what is happening in the real world into the lives of these characters in this modern moment. Not every television show can do that.

“As many doctor’s offices were closed and appointments were cancelled or pushed back when COVID first hit, you have to think about how that is affecting care and clinical trials, including the Alzheimer’s trial that Rebecca is part of on the show. Some may still be happening virtually, while others may be on hold, or shut down permanently. The show’s ability to go back in time and circle back to contemporary times may be informed by how our country has responded to this disease, and the path we currently find ourselves on. I’m looking forward to seeing how Rebecca’s involvement in a clinical trial during the times of COVID will be incorporated into the storyline.”

Personally, the sting was much more painful. The father of his wife Nicole was a veteran who was given the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s at a VA hospital. But, as many families coping with this insidious disease can attest to, getting a diagnosis was not an easy road. Doctors kept running cognitive testing without finding answers.

He died suddenly at 85 after receiving his diagnosis while in his early 80s. Huertas said he lived a full, wonderful life. 

“My mom has had several falls, and now my sister and I find ourselves working with neurologists in order to find a diagnosis to determine what is happening with her,” Huertas said. “I admit that it is scary, being on the show and talking about Alzheimer’s disease in these scripts, and then being faced with the prospect of this disease in my own family. But I feel more prepared when it comes to my mom, having experienced what we have with my father-in-law.”

More than 5 million Americans have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. An estimated 5.8 million Americans aged 65 or older are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2020, and 80 percent are 75 or older, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Click here for the complete interview

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month as well as National Family Caregivers Month. The Alzheimer’s Association offers a 24-7 hotline (800-272-3900) to address any questions or concerns. Or you can click onto www.alz.org

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