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Maria Shriver calls it “an unprecedented television event” and “television at its best.”  As a mom who spends hours writing about unimportant television, it is my honor to raise awareness of the new documentary called “The Alzheimer’s Project” which begins on HBO starting May 10, 2009.

Last week, writers from theSilicon Valley Moms Blognetwork were invited to join a private conference call with California First Lady Maria Shriver, who is raising awareness of the disease and the impact on patients and dedicated caregivers.  Ms. Shriver appears in the four-part HBO documentary to help parents explain the effects of the disease to their children.

Maria Shriver is no stranger to the issue; in fact, she wrote the book called “What’s happening to Grandpa?” when her father, Sargent Shriver, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s six years ago.  She speaks with conviction, passion and reality. Not only was I moved by her, but also by the story she shares:

  • Alzheimer’s claims a new victim every 70 seconds.
  • 70 percent of patients are living at home.
  • 76 percent of caregivers are (uncompensated) women, many of whom also have small children in the home.
  • Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient is overwhelming — financially, personally and spiritually.
  • Alzheimer’s could bankrupt the American healthcare system as we know it.
  • This is a family disease, and there are no survivors.

The part of Ms. Shriver’s story that struck me the most — and has stayed with me for days — is this: Alzheimer’s is an old person’s disease, but a young person’s burden.  I never thought of it that way. As our parents are getting older, many will become ill.  It will become our challenge to take care of them both physically and financially, regardless of healthcare aid that is available or not available.  Equally important, we need to solve the health and financial issues of Alzheimer’s before my generation goes from caregivers to patients. As Ms. Shriver said, “we don’t want our children to spend their lives — or their life savings — taking care of us.”

The documentary will appear on HBO or on-demand for everyone to see. For more information, click HERE.

To learn more about Alzheimer’s, visit the Alzheimer’s Association web site or call 1-800-272-3900 (24 hours a day).

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