May 4, 2010

“Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am?" (HBO) To Be Honored

Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am? was part of the HBO documentary series The Alzheimer's Project....
By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

The annual Television Academy Honors spotlights shows that exemplify "television with a conscience." This year the academy will honor “Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am?" with Maria Shriver.

The award recognizes achievements in programming that present issues of concern to our society in a compelling, emotional and insightful way.

Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am? with Maria Shriver

The film tells five stories of children, ages 6-15, who are coping with grandfathers or grandmothers suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Maria Shriver provides commentary and delivers valuable "lessons" for the kids, urging them not to blame themselves for what their grandparents do or say.

"We are all children of Alzheimer's," says Shriver, sympathetically making it clear that "if it's too painful to visit, you don't have to go."

Maria's own father, Sargent Shriver, suffers from Alzheimer's dementia. She says comparing his earlier vitality to his present condition is hard; but, it is offset by good memories and an unexpected "gift": bonds between generations that may not have been made otherwise.

The film offers up a variety of perspectives on how kids can handle a grandparent's loss of memory through kindness, patience and compassion.

Go here to watch “Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am?" on the Internet via streaming video (HBO website).

You can also watch The Alzheimer's Project -- Caregivers.

There are currently 10 million Americans providing 12 billion hours of unpaid care to people with Alzheimer's disease or other dementias, according to an estimate from the Alzheimer's Association.

Seventy percent of people with Alzheimer's live at home, cared for by family and friends.

As Bill Couturié explains:
"Not only is it very expensive to pay for care in a nursing home, but the patient is someone you love a lot - a mother, father, spouse. Someone who has taken care of you, and so it's only natural to want to take care of them."

Alzheimer's can take a great toll on the physical and emotional well-being not just of the patient, but of the caregiver as well.
"It's not uncommon for the caregiver to die before the patient. It's a 24/7 job and often the caregiver has no help. But it's a long haul, you can't live like that and survive. Caregivers must be able to find some respite," says Couturié.
Caregivers is a collection of five portraits, each of which highlights the sacrifices and successes made by people experiencing their loved one's gradual descent into dementia.
"Successful caregivers don't do this out of a sense of obligation," notes Couturié. "They truly love their father or wife and get a sense of joy from giving to the person. They also learn to live in the present...a butterfly, a cloud in the sky -- these folks learn to appreciate that."
To watch The Alzheimer's Project -- Caregivers on the Internet vie streaming video -- go here.

The Alzheimer's Project
The Alzheimer's Project

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Bob DeMarco is the editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. Bob has written more than 1,400 articles with more than 9,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room