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Caregivers Play Essential Role in Alzheimer's Battle

When it comes to improving the lives of people with Alzheimer's disease, nothing is more important than the efforts of the caregiver. Dr. Emily Senay reports for the Early Show.

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disease of the brain that gradually robs people of their memories over a period of many years. Although there are treatments that can slow it down or alleviate some of the symptoms, there is no cure. Most often, it's up to family and friends to provide relief.

Psychiatrist Dr. Gene Cohen studies ways to make life more comfortable for Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers. When his own father developed Alzheimer's, Dr. Cohen compiled photos and press clippings into a short film to help him recall his past.

These days, Dr. Cohen helps other families compile video scrapbooks to comfort their ailing family members.

Says Dr. Cohen, "The goal is not to improve the disease in terms of turning it around. [The videos] can't do that. But what it does to improve the quality of life for the patient and the family . . . It gives pleasant times for many patients."

For more about Alzheimer's and research on creativity and aging, go to the Web site for the Center for Aging, Health & Humanities at George Washington University.

Also, here's the Web site address and the toll-free number for questions about the disease and caregiver support from the Alzheimer's Association: and 800-272-3900.

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