Thursday, April 12, 2012
The Alzheimer's Project is an HBO documentary series that debuted in 2009. It consists of 4 documentaries that look at the science of the disease and those affected by the disease, the people with the disease, their caregivers and children. There is also a supplementary series of short videos.
What really caught my attention in this three year old series was the documentary entitled "Grandpa, do you know who I am?" It was narrated by Maria Shriver whose father, Sargent Shriver, suffered from Alzheimer's. (He died in 2011.) This video was geared toward children dealing with grandparents with Alzheimer's.
They followed several different children in different circumstances. One family of children was having an open conversation with their grandfather with early Alzheimer's about what was happening to him and how he was dealing with it. One girl was helping to care for her grandmother in her home and another had a grandmother in a nursing home.
The very emotional part of the video was when they discussed some of the behavioral changes in their grandparents. One child described her nursing home bound grandmother slapping her for no apparent reason. In another scene, a grandmother yells at her granddaughter to leave when she tries to read to her.
The video is mixed with messages for children dealing with similar situations, like this is the disease not really your grandparent and try to be a keeper of your grandparents memories.
This documentary series is very well done as HBO documentaries tend to be. It was made in collaboration with National Institute on Aging. What I really appreciated is that the videos are all available online here.