HBO's Alzheimer's series aims to push for cure

Sun May 3, 2009 9:06am EDT
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - It's been almost 15 years since former U.S. President Ronald Reagan told the world he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, hoping his disclosure would promote awareness of the heart-breaking brain disorder that slowly destroys memory.

Now, with an estimated 26 million people worldwide living with disease and a predicted 11 million by 2050 in the United States alone, a unique series by cable TV network HBO aims to change how people think of Alzheimer's so they will put time and money into finding a cure.

The unprecedented multi-platform series runs throughout May and features four documentaries, 15 short films, a book, a community outreach program and a website ( covering every aspect of Alzheimer's.

"The numbers are growing at a rate that nobody ever fathomed. As babyboomers age, it is coming right at us and we have to do something," said Maria Shriver, wife of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and executive producer of "The Alzheimer's Project."

"This is an epidemic for this generation. A cure is within our reach if we focus on it, allocate the money and pressure our lawmakers. If we don't, the impact has devastating consequences," Shriver told Reuters.

"The Alzheimer's Project", starting on May 10, looks at the disease's impact on victims, their families and caregivers. It also includes a science film that takes viewers inside the labs and clinics of 25 leading physicians and researchers.


While there is no cure for what is the most second-feared illness in America after cancer, the program concludes there are reasons to be optimistic.   Continued...

<p>The Home Box Office premium cable channel will telecast an unprecedented multi-platform series throughout May that features four documentaries, 15 short films, a book, community outreach program and a Web site ( covering every aspect of Alzheimer's, the series "THE Alzheimer's Project" will premiere May 3, 2009. Shown in a scene from the program "The Alzheimer's Project: Caregivers" are (L-R) Andrea Ontiveros, Suzanne McKenna and Arlene Storz. REUTERS/Katja Heinemann/HBO/Handout</p>