Not normally a sports fan, there are some nuggets of information even I can’t avoid. Like the incredible record of the University of Tennessee’s women’s basketball team. So, when I read today that their long-time coach, Pat Summitt, has early onset Alzheimer’s (she’s only 59), the news was like a slap in the face. That’s the “bad” – a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is never good, right?
But the courage Ms. Summitt displayed in opening up to the public, while saying that she’ll continue to coach as long as it makes sense, certainly strikes me as the “good.” One of my mantra’s is, after all public awareness! Visibility! Information! The very pleadings that were expressed during the recent NAPA listening session held in San Francisco on August 10th!
And, here’s another one: I must have missed it, but Glen Campbell announced in June that he has Alzheimer’s. He’s still engaged in his music and has a new album coming out on August 30th. Again, the “good” and the “bad.”
I thank these two celebrities for not hiding behind a veil. They and their loved ones are not afraid of speaking out. It’s about time! All of this helps us beat down the stigma we know is associated with Alzheimer’s.
What’s also buried in these stories is that these two individuals know that their lives are defined by what they can do, not by what they can’t (and they are supported in their belief by those who live and work with them). And, they can do a lot! This is another powerful message worth repeating. Continue reading “Celebrities with Alzheimer’s in the news: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” »
It’s amazing what you learn when you listen as those who attended the NAPA Listening Session in San Francisco on August 10 can attest; in fact, there was some very eye-popping testimony!
No, NAPA does not refer to wine country, but rather the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, federal legislation that was signed into law in January, 2011. The federal Department of Health and Human Services is charged with its implementation and it’s encouraging that they are actively taking part in these sessions. After all, it’s the input from people who know what they are talking about who are best prepared to shape a National Alzheimer’s Plan: those living with Alzheimer’s, caregivers, health care professionals and researchers.
The meeting was kicked off by Bill Fisher, CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter, Harry Johns, national CEO of the Alzheimer’s Association, and Donold Moulds, from the Health and Human Services Agency. But the real VIPs were sitting in the audience, especially the many who spoke concisely and intelligently from the heart, with passion and inspiration.
One of the most interesting comments was from a woman who may have been the only person in the room who did not know anything about Alzheimer’s. Continue reading “Reflections on the NAPA Listening Session in San Francisco” »
Recently reading two newspaper articles significantly increased my optimism temperature when thinking about our preparation for the future.
First, the New York Times article, “New for Aspiring Doctors, the People Skills Test,” outlined a new process medical schools are using to evaluate applicants’ behavior and communications skills before granting admission. While a pleasing bedside manner and an ability to listen have always been treasured traits in the medical profession, such expectations are not always met; the schools know that, too. Today, physicians’ decision-making, patient interactions and cultural competency are increasingly important. In fact, research shows that, despite one’s technical competence, poor communication among health care professionals and their patients can result in bad health outcomes – even preventable deaths. Yikes! Combine that with the reality that medicine is increasingly being practiced in coordinated teams, rather than in a solo practice, and we can see why it makes sense for medical schools to “screen out” applicants with inadequate communication and social skills. Continue reading “Encouraging news: New docs learn people skills and communities prepare for an aging population” »
You may have noticed the recent news about a new therapy for advanced melanoma. Good news. Listening to an interview with one of the scientists involved, he commented, “this is the payoff of decades of Federal investment in cancer research.” Indeed.
He made the case we make. The investment in cancer, heart disease and HIV/AIDS has been, and continues to be, a good one, making real differences in real people’s lives and bending the curve of cancer deaths downwards. We look now for a similar investment in Alzheimer’s disease before the Baby Boom generation is doomed to a huge wave of Alzheimer’s disease. Continue reading “Coming soon: Alzheimer’s listening session in San Francisco 8/10” »
Have you noticed that so many times during the day, something makes you think of Alzheimer’s? It happens to me, too, and three occasions immediately come to mind.
Driving a few days ago and listening to the radio, NPR alerted me to a story I wanted to hear. With only a few minutes to my destination, I hurried home, raced up the stairs and tuned in before even saying hello to everyone. My house was a madhouse so I couldn’t focus as intently as I wanted, but the story was about innovative research on families in Colombia beset with early onset Alzheimer’s. This research is risky as the subjects will be completely healthy individuals, rather than those already with dementia symptoms, and at least one of the studies has been done only on animals. Potential human side effects are unknown and it can be a frightening situation. Yet, you know as well as I do that desperate families often have the courage to try anything. We thank them for saying “Yes, I want to participate.” This same story was highlighted in a series by the New York Times a year ago; it’s taken all this time to obtain the necessary research funding and sign up participants. We’ll definitely keep an eye on this exciting study. Continue reading “Gov Brown Signs CA Budget – What does this mean for Alzheimer’s services?” »
Screaming headlines greeted me when I returned from an Alzheimer’s meeting in San Diego on Friday night – “Memory Implant Gives Rats Sharper Recollection.” Well, not really a headline, and not screaming either, but rather an interesting article about the design of a brain implant that restored lost memory function and strengthened recall of new information in rats. Don’t get too excited; scientists are a long way from human testing. But this is another hopeful sign and another compelling reason why we can’t ignore any viable brain research. Continue reading “News of memory implants reminds us: we can all contribute to the CA state plan’s awareness goals” »