Unforgettable TV: HBO's Alzheimer's Project

Fear and hope seen in profiles of victims and families, assessments of research efforts.

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HBO launched its ambitious documentary, The Alzheimer's Project, on Mother's Day. The series is being aired on four consecutive evenings. If you don't subscribe to HBO you can view the programs at the HBO web site, along with a lot of background and educational materials.

Alzheimer's is a tough disease, on all levels. The often lengthy process of seeing a loved one's personality and memories literally disappearing before your eyes is upsetting to everyone and devastating to some. It's not the kind of thing you want to bring out of the closet and examine. And when you do, it's not the kind of thing you want to keep out in the open. The emotions are too raw, too painful. But just as Alzheimer's can make life's experiences impossible to remember for those with the disease, it makes them impossible to forget for the families and friends of people with Alzheimer's. They are the surviving victims of the disease. [See How to Set Up a Caregiving Agreement.]  So, watch the series, talk about Alzheimer's, support research to find ways to stop or slow the disease, and support more funding to help people who take care of those with Alzheimer's.

But most of all, cherish your memories. Enjoy them now. And enjoy the people who gave them to you. Don't wait.

For a wonderful appreciation of memory, listen to the interview Fresh Air's Terry Gross had with poet W.S. Merwin, who recently was awarded his second Pulitzer Prize. [See 4 Ways Retirees Can Enrich Their Life (And the Lives of Others).]