Through documentaries, short films, web resources, community outreach and a published book, HBO is helping raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and how far we’ve come in fighting it.
The Alzheimer’s Project was created by HBO, but it’s more than just a documentary series—it’s a multimedia effort to get out the latest information on Alzheimer’s disease, from what it does to the brain to how it affects sufferers and their families. On the project website, you’ll find fifteen short films, an in-depth four-part documentary, comprehensive Alzheimer’s data, and a wide range of resources devoted to educating families and caregivers as well as helping them cope with the effects of the disease.
In order to reach as many people as possible, HBO and its partners are making full use of video, multimedia and interactive tools, making the Alzheimer’s Project documentaries and films available via DVD, its YouTube channel, streaming on the Alzheimer’s Project website, and HBO On Demand. Some of these options are available free of charge.
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“HBO sees the series as a sort of privately funded public health campaign. To reach the estimated 150 million Americans whose lives are touched by Alzheimer’s, HBO is distributing the series in unprecedented ways,” reported a Los Angeles Times article when the series was first aired in 2009.
Viewers learn not only about the scientific progress that researchers have made in unlocking the mysteries of the disease, but also about the undeniably painful human side of Alzheimer’s, through films that highlight the stories of individual Alzheimer’s sufferers and caregivers.
One of the documentaries, entitled “Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am?”, is hosted by Maria Shriver and tells the stories of children coping with an ill grandparent; in 2009, it received a Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Children’s Nonfiction Program (Source: National Institute on Aging). In fact, the series has won multiple awards, and it’s no wonder. All the videos, while broaching difficult subject matter, also stress the hopeful side and offer advice for handling the memory loss and health decline of a loved one.
“There is a compelling story to tell of scientific discovery, of research advances and challenges, and of the human faces behind the disease,” says Richard J. Hodes, M.D., director of the National Institute on Aging, on the Project website.
Getting informed about Alzheimer’s is an important first step, but the Alzheimer’s Project also stresses the importance of involvement, whether it’s in helping in the fight against the disease, taking better care of your own health, or simply honoring those you care about by sharing your stories with others. Visitors to the Project website can learn more about volunteering, participating in clinical trials, making donations, or contributing to the Alzheimer’s Project Tribute Wall on Facebook.
Have you been involved in the Alzheimer’s Project? Let us know how you’re a part of the fight against Alzheimer’s—leave us your stories in the comments.