“A Million Little Things” Recap: Season 5, Episode 9 – Walter Dementia

In Wednesdays A million little things Rome and Regina find a fantastic facility for Rome’s father, Walter, whose battle with dementia worsens week by week. But once Walter is settled in his assisted living centerRome’s guilt comes into play, hard.

If the episode feels authentic to those whose loved ones have suffered from the disease, it’s because Marce Clarke – who wrote the screenplay – experienced it: her father has vascular dementia, and when she wrote the hour, she was her 24/24. 7 caregiver.

Read on to hear what Clarke has to say about how the ABC drama’s final season uses her bittersweet personal experience.

TVLINE | I’m really, really interested in talking to you, because my mother and grandmother who lived with us for most of my childhood suffered from dementia. So I feel like I feel you on some level – so you have that background. Talk to me about plotting how Walter’s disease was going to progress this season, what kind of input you gave and how you wanted to pace it.
For me the pacing was extremely important generally from start to finish because we didn’t want it to go too fast and we didn’t want it to go too slow… I was living with my dad at the time, as well as writing . I made the brave decision to move in with him, which was a bit – yeah, I think I took on too much, but I wanted to do the right thing. I’m sure you sympathize with that. You just want to do what’s right for your parents.

But in terms of the show, I was trying to kind of parallel that with my trip as much as possible. So things like [urinary tract infection] of all that. It was my contribution, because my father had a urinary tract infection and I remember DJ [Nash, series creator] not wanting it to be unbelievable.. He wanted this story to be real when Walter enters school [in Episode 7], and stuff like that. And, I just said, “Look, my dad had a UTI, and it sent him bananas.

… I was also thinking about my family dynamics, brother situation, sibling situation, I had the same situation and I was just trying to keep everyone happy but taking control, I was really the person taking Control. I had an entry into this kind of scenario. So I was just trying to mirror my own life and A million little things‘ [writers’] the room is so great for that because they really listen to you. It doesn’t matter what your level as a writer is. They allow you to bring your personal stories to the table and you are truly respected and heard. People were sort of looking for answers that way. DJ is so nice. Even if his dad had dementia, he would still be, you know, “Is that telling you the truth? Does this sound authentic to you? And they really cared too. The person who runs the room, [co-executive producer] William Brown, was exactly the same.

TVLINE | This process seems to be incredibly cathartic but also very painful. I don’t want to be your shrink, but what about your insides while you were doing this episode?

That’s a very good question, and it’s a very good question. It was good for me because I was living in a house with my father at the time, very alone. [Laughs] Sorry to bring out the violins, but it was. So I had the room to hope for. They were kind of like my only source of companionship for quite a while. And because DJ – and Bill Brown and [consulting producter] Susan Jaffee – had been through this journey like you, I could tell someone like you, because you’ve been through it too. So we can sympathize with each other. None of my friends have been through this, you know. My father is only 65 years old.

Their parents are living their lives and enjoying their retirement. So I went from feeling very isolated to being a small family.

TVLINE | Is your father still with us? How is he doing?
He is. It is in the moderate to severe stages. I had to move at the end. I was afraid that he would become aggressive. But we still go… My family is so much more involved now, and that was great to have.

What did you think of the episode? Sound off in the comments below!


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