Will I Be Next?

Will I Be Next?

A BATTLE FOR THE BRAIN THAT BEGINS WITH THE HEART


An independent documentary about the search for a cure to Alzheimer’s disease

 

The Story

Will I Be Next? is about the quest to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease as told by human research subjects in a long-term medical study.

This independent documentary intimately shows what happens when human test subjects – who are at high risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease – offer their blood, brains, and hearts to conquer it.

Since Dr. Mark Sager took the initiative in 2001, medical research scientists at the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute at the University of Wisconsin have been on a mission – to figure out how to prevent, and eventually cure, Alzheimer’s disease.

Their method is to track the characteristics and habits of people at high risk for the disease, and to observe them in biological detail as they age. Some convert to Alzheimer’s disease and some do not. Why?

After humble beginnings, the study—the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer’s Prevention (WRAP) —is now recognized by the National Institutes of Health as a high-priority research site.

At the heart of the Alzheimer’s study are the test group participants – middle-aged adults with a deceased or living parent with Alzheimer’s disease. Parental history makes the test group 3x more likely to get the disease than those without a history of it in their families.

The human research subjects are followed by the scientists for a minimum of 15 to 20 years and undergo periodic and rigorous cognitive tests.

The test group also shares one of life’s most difficult trials – a parent’s decline from Alzheimer’s disease.

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The Characters

Barb, Karen and Sigrid also return every two to three years to undergo the signature experience – a multidisciplinary oral cognitive test. This battery of questions looks for problems with their memory that signal their worst fear—the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

By combining clinical, brain imaging, biomarker information and physical fitness data, scientists are in pursuit of both the causes of the disease and what lifestyle practices may help delay the onset. It’s a race against time, but thus far, Alzheimer’s has been the victor.

As the researchers compile data from 1,500 participants over the first period of the study, a narrative begins to emerge. 

How soon will an answer be found?

Can it be found in time?

Film News

The Daughter Dilemma

When I was 36 years old, my brother-in-law called me to say that my father had called the police to his house. My father said that a gang of people had come in, propped the door open, and started hauling things out. The police arrived to find everything in good order (well, in as good of order as a cluttered house with 50 years’ worth of stuff can be). They asked if my father was on any medication, and had he forgotten to take it.  Clearly, whatever had happened to my father had been in his mind. My stomach sank when I got that call. It sank because I’d been able to ignore the small signs up until now that my father was beginning to not be able to take care of himself. It sank because his mind was going. It sank because thieves really hadn’t hauled things from his house, and that meant that I would have to do it. Shortly after this, my father was declared incompetent by two physicians. It was unsafe for him to live on his own. I lived an hour away and had a 7-year-old child of my own; it was not possible for me to check in on him every day nor spend large parts of my day with him. Briefly, I considered quitting my jobs, asking my husband to quit his job, and moving back to our hometown. This was not feasible in the short term. Nor did we know what the long term was likely to bring. This is precisely the situation that many daughters in America face: how to...

XPRIZE Heightens Race for Early-Stage Alzheimer’s Biomarker

For most of human history, the average life expectancy was 18 years. Today it approaches 79. The age at which more people die than at any other is now 86 and advancing. A troubling coincidence about our new age of longevity is that one in three people over 85 suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias. Overwhelmingly, people of all ages are now saying that the scariest downside of a long life may be Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s stands out from the rest of age-related illnesses in that it’s 100 percent fatal and essentially 100 percent untreatable. Soon, the economic burden of dealing with Alzheimer’s is expected to rise to 1% of the world’s economy. Along comes the XPRIZE, which offers a challenge to the Alzheimer’s conundrum. Administered by the XPRIZE Foundation—a non-profit global leader in solving the world’s grandest challenges—XPRIZE creates and manages large-scale incentive prized competitions. XPRIZE challenges innovation from small teams around the world to participate in solving a grand challenge in a competitive format, like a game. XPRIZE offers prizes up to $30 million, highly leveraged through global crowdsourcing. A team of Alzheimer’s experts has been formed to work towards creating an XPRIZE for eliminating Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Ken Dychtwald, Founder and CEO of Age Wave, envisions putting an end to Alzheimer’s disease using 21st century techniques and technologies. He references his work with Dr. Jonas Salk and hearing that in the 1940s when the predominant thinking was that polio was simply a part of life and what was needed was more iron lungs. Salk said no, we have to stop this disease. Likewise, Dychtwald proclaims,...

Caring for the Caregiver in the Workplace

On the fourth Tuesday of every month at 11:00 a.m. there’s a meeting on Colleen’s work calendar that she looks forward to. That’s when she hears stories of other people going through caregiving situations like she is, which helps her feel that she’s not alone. It’s the time when she learns what has worked for her colleagues in their caregiving experiences that she might learn from.  And it’s a time when she can bring up an issue that she and her husband are facing and get ideas from her fellow employees on how to handle it. At this time each month, Colleen attends the Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias Caregiver Support Group tele-conference meeting that is supported by her employer, a Fortune 100 company. The meeting is a tele-conference because the company has employees across the U.S. In 2016, the 15.9 million family and other unpaid caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias provided an estimated 18.2 billion hours of unpaid care. [2017 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.] The cost to caregivers includes loss of their income and their physical and mental health. These stressors also impact the workplaces of these caregivers, including loss of productivity, increased absenteeism and increases in health care costs. These ultimately affect a company’s bottom line, so investing in caregiving benefits, programs and services is beginning to get some traction, according to a survey of 129 mostly large employers throughout the U.S. conducted earlier this year by the Northeast Business Group on Health (NEBGH) in collaboration with AARP. Findings were reported in a July 2017 report, Caregiving and the Workplace: Employer Benchmarking Survey. For...

Filmmakers

Therese Barry-Tanner

Therese Barry-Tanner

PRODUCER/SOUND

Therese Barry-Tanner has been a participant in the WRAP study for more than ten years. Therese understands Alzheimer’s disease at an intimate level. She assisted her father in caring for her mother with the disease. Later she advocated for her mother fiercely at a nursing home —her mother was unable to speak for herself. Therese lost her mother to Alzheimer’s disease in November of 2008. Will I Be Next? began as Therese’s idea in 2011. Therese hopes that Will I Be Next? will bring the audience through the emotional journey and difficult decisions that are made when a loved one lives with or dies from Alzheimer’s disease. The film, Therese hopes, will share the experience of being a human research subject, and that it will offer an inside look at the people who are working to find a cure.  Therese has worked in the healthcare industry for over 30 years and has 20+ years in project and program management. She recently was a program leader for implementation of the Affordable Care Act for Humana, Inc. and is now leading that company’s efforts to achieve Physician Quality Certification by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).

Melissa Godoy

Melissa Godoy

DIRECTOR/CINEMATOGRAPHER

Godoy was Line Producer for the Oscar-nominated documentary short, The Last Truck by Steven Bognar & Julia Reichert (HBO); and Line Producer for Bognar and Reichert’s Emmy Award-winning documentary about children with cancer, A Lion in the House (Independent Lens/PBS). She was the Cincinnati cinematographer for Election Day by Katy Chevigny (POV/PBS); a cinematographer for the short docs Making Morning Star and Sparkle (Lifecasters/PBS) both by Bognar & Reichert; and a shooter for Andrea Torrice’s Trees in Trouble: Saving America’s Urban Forests (PBS/NETA). Her documentary about creative aging, Do Not Go Gently, co-produced with Eileen Littig, is airing for the 10th consecutive year on PBS stations through American Public Television. The film received a National Media Award from the American Society of Aging. For the past seven years Godoy has been shooting Rebirth of Over-the-Rhine, a narrative documentary about change in Cincinnati’s historic core.

Eileen Littig

Eileen Littig

PRODUCER

Eileen Littig is an independent producer and the former director of Northeastern Wisconsin In-School Telecommunications. With Wisconsin Public Television, she has produced numerous television programs for children and teens, and has been recognized with a Corporation for Public Broadcasting Gold Medal and two Midwest Emmys. For 28 years, Littig produced Teen Connection, a series of live call-in programs on contemporary teen issues that  aired on Wisconsin Public Television. Recent work, with Dean Leisgang at Educational Television Productions of Northeastern Wisconsin, includes a short doc for teens called If a Bully Watches This and the story of a pioneer female environmentalist, Emma Toft: One With Nature. Littig received an Athena Award (2007) and the Carol Montie Community Service Award by the Mediation Center of Greater Green Bay (2011) for her “extraordinary commitment and accomplishments in bringing out the voices of all people and in promoting dialogue and understanding.” She serves on the Wisconsin Educational Communications Board.

Shawndra Jones

Shawndra Jones

SOUND/GRIP

Jones was a producer/shooter/editor and sound recordist for Reinvention Stories, a collaboration between the National Public Radio station in Yellow Springs, Ohio – WYSO 91.3, led by Neenah Ellis, and filmmakers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert. In 2012, she was a sound mixer for the short docs Making Morning Star, which premiered at the 2016 Cleveland International Film Festival and Sparkle (Lifecasters/PBS), both by Bognar & Reichert. In 2015 she was on the location sound team for Contemporary Color, a visual and audio extravaganza by the Ross Brothers, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. Jones was the Cincinnati sound engineer for The New Black by Yoruba Richen (Independent Lens/PBS). Jones is a graduate of Wright State University’s Motion Picture Program. She also works at WBDT and WDTN-TV in Dayton.

Amy Kruep

Amy Kruep

SOUND/GRIP

Amy Kruep, RNC, DCP has worked with the older adults for more than 30 years, particularly those with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. She is a nurse manager for Residential Care at Mercy Health West Park, a continuum care facility in Cincinnati, where she created the DaySTAE (Success Through Arts & Environment) dementia program. Kruep serves on the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Cincinnati Public Policy Committee, and she is a regional trainer for the national TimeSlips™ creative storytelling program. Kruep produced two short fiction films in collaboration with participants in her DaySTAE program: Runaway Train (2010) and Until Sadie Blotz (2012). Until Sadie Blotz is about an unhappy nursing home resident who returns to a day in her life. Created by writers and actors with dementia, it screened at the Positive Aging Conference in Los Angeles and the American Society on Aging in Chicago. Amy cared for her father through his last days with Alzheimer’s disease.

Jo Hillman

Jo Hillman

ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

Jo cared for her mom when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. After her mother’s death in 2004, Jo became a human test subject in the WRAP study. A post-secondary educator, Jo’s career has taken her to private and public institutions across the U.S. and Canada. She has received awards of excellence for her teaching and quality enhancement initiatives. Jo was Vice President of the National Quality Academy, taking continuous quality improvement concepts to schools of higher education. She is the founding principal of Performance Horizons Consulting Group, which offers quality improvement strategies to post-secondary schools. Jo’s media productions include Connections, a customer service training program for higher education and Keeping the Green in Greenville, about urban forestry in a Wisconsin town.

Karen Y. Durgans

Karen Y. Durgans

Community Engagement Consultant

Karen was Associate Producer and Outreach Coordinator for Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s A Lion in the House, an Emmy Award-winning documentary and national outreach project (Independent Lens/PBS). Durgans was a field researcher for the U.S. Financial Diaries Project, a research and development partnership between New York University Wagner’s Financial Access Initiative and the Center for Financial Services Innovation out of Chicago. She provided research, logistical and audio support for “American International Health Alliance: Partners in Health,” which profiled international sister-city partnerships in Armavir, Armenia and Galveston, Texas. “Partners in Health” aired in Season 10 of the award-winning PBS series, The Visionaries.

Jean Wentz

Jean Wentz

Production Assistant

Jean worked as an archives assistant at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay library for 20 years before making a career change. She is now a caregiver for the elderly and those with disabilities, including Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Jean is also the administrative assistant for the Green Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and Chair of the Sunday Services committee. She just received her certification as a mandala facilitator in the tradition of Dr. Rajita Sivananda (Judith Cornell), which involved 108 hours of leading workshops.

Partners

Center-for-IndependentDocumentary

Center for Independent
Documentary

The Center for Independent Documentary (CID) collaborates with independent filmmakers to create documentaries on issues of contemporary social and cultural concern. CID is the fiscal sponsor of Will I Be Next? and manages the project funds through their 501(c)(3). They bring expertise in fundraising, production, and distribution. Recent CID projects include Nancy Kates’ Regarding Susan Sontag (HBO) and Cheryl Furjanic’s Back on Board: Greg Louganis. Founded in 1981, CID’s programs have screened at major festivals, aired nationally and locally on public and cable television, and earned numerous awards.

Alzheimers-Association

 

Alzheimer’s Association
GREATER WISCONSIN CHAPTER

The Greater Wisconsin Chapter aided in securing initial funding for Will I Be Next?, which was instrumental to making the project a reality. It is one of over 70 Alzheimer’s Association chapters across the United States and shares the organization’s mission: “To eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.”

Will I Be Next is made possible with support from:

  • Bader Philanthropies
  • Recall Foundation (formerly Extendicare)
  • Irene D. Kress
  • Arthur & Hilde Erickson Family Trust
  • The Premonstratensian Fathers Augustine Stewardship Fund
  • Philip J Hendrickson in Memory of Elizabeth Hendrickson
  • Marianne Van Drisse
  • Jewish Foundation of Greater Dayton
  • Greater Green Bay Community Foundation
  • Scott & Nancy Armbrust Fund
  • Paul, Barry & Tanner Family Fund in memory of Helen and Jerry Paul
  • Green Bay Packers Foundation
  • Tod and Carolyn Zacharias
  • Johnson Juengst Fund
  • Daniel & Nancy Gulling
  • American Foods Group
  • Laura Morrison
  • John & Gisela Brogan
  • Frances Frigo
  • Long Family Foundation Trust Agency
  • Court and Patricia Larkin
  • Carol DeGroot
  • Donald and Jennifer Sipes
  • Judy Nagel
  • Dennis and Lavon Rader
  • Charles & Patricia Tanner
  • Individuals honoring a loved one who died of AD
  • Online donations – The Quest
  • Producer Cash
  • In-Kind Time Donations by Producers

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Contact

For questions or media inquiries, please email us at [email protected].