Will I Be Next?

Alzheimer’s Has, at Least, Two Faces

Alzheimer’s Has, at Least, Two Faces

By Guest Blogger Brian LeBlanc (aka “The ALZ Guy” on Twitter) In 1996, Barbra Streisand  directed and starred in the movie, “The Mirror Has Two Faces.”  Streisand plays a homely-looking, Columbia University English Professor with low self esteem issues, who, through a personal ad placed by her sister, meets Jeff Bridges , a Columbia University leading figure in the Math Dept. They agree to marry based upon what they describe as a “palsy-walsy pseudo-marriage.” They see each other, as well as themselves, being not who they really are but seeing themselves only on the surface. At this point, you may be asking yourself, “What does Alzheimer’s have to do with a Barbra Streisand movie? Well, other than the title of the movie, it has to do with the perception of how we see ourselves and how others see us.  This brought to mind what I wanted to write about. Confused? Great! Welcome to my world. Maybe this will help: More than several months ago, at least I think it was, Shannon (my beautiful, understanding, loving wife) and I were returning home after a presentation I gave to a local Rotary Club. I always ask her how things went for I know she will be honest with me. This time, instead of giving me an answer, she started to cry. (I must tell you that due to the fact that Alzheimer’s has already begun its destruction of my short-term memory, I don’t remember many things, however, I do remember this.) I asked her what was wrong and this is what she told me. “You stand up there looking all polished and professional, reading from your prepared speech, smiling, cracking jokes, basically being...
“Will I Be Next?” to present at Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Conference

“Will I Be Next?” to present at Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Conference

The Alzheimer’s Association 30th Annual Wisconsin Network Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias will take place in the Wisconsin Dells on May 1-3, 2016.  It is one of the largest educational forums in the United States dedicated to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. On May 2,  Will I Be Next? will present a short work-in-progress screening and workshop to solicit insights and feedback. Producer Therese Barry-Tanner and Alzheimer’s nurse/sound person Amy Kruep will lead a group discussion. Karen McElwee Lloyd, one of the film’s main characters, will be available to discuss her experience in the WRAP study and in the film. The feedback will be utilized in the continued production and editing of Will I Be Next?. In addition to the pre-conference seminars and keynote speakers, the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Conference offers over 40 workshops at the conference. Topics cover a range of issues related to both patients and caregivers, including: assistive devices, bathing, creative engagement, denial, depression, safety, and...
Putting a Young Face on an Old Disease

Putting a Young Face on an Old Disease

Ashley Tracey was in middle school when her grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. “He was the spitfire of the family,” she remembers. “He was the one who would give you a wet willy when you were playing cards to try to distract you.” Although they didn’t live in the same area and she didn’t get to see him on a weekly basis, what struck her most each time they visited was how quickly the disease progressed in her grandfather. She was still in middle school when he passed away. “How could someone with so much spunk fizzle out so fast?” she wondered. When Ashley moved to Denver 3 ½ years ago and was looking for a way to make friends, she discovered the Blondes vs. Brunettes flag football event sponsored by the Colorado Young Professionals chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. “It sounded like a lot of fun, a great way to meet people, and a way to raise awareness and funds for the disease that had claimed Grandpa Tracey,” she recalls. Little did Ashley know when she signed on to the Brunettes team that several years later she would end up coordinating the event! In June she came on board as the Special Events Coordinator for the Colorado Young Professionals. The Alzheimer’s Association has Young Professionals groups throughout the country.  The point of these organizations is to show the public that Alzheimer’s is not “an old person’s disease.” It affects people of every age, whether it’s yourself with an early-onset diagnosis (sometimes as early as in your 40s!), or whether it’s a family member of any age that...
“Will I Be Next?” Work-in-Progress Clip at International Neuropsychological Society’s Annual Meeting

“Will I Be Next?” Work-in-Progress Clip at International Neuropsychological Society’s Annual Meeting

The International Neuropsychological Society (INS) held its 44th annual meeting in Boston February 3-6, 2016. A six-minute work-in-progress clip from Will I Be Next? was shared prior to the awards ceremony, after the plenary session. INS Executive Director Gordon Chelune plans to devote an entire session to the film at the 2017 conference. The screening in Boston this year gave the audience a sneak peak of what’s ahead. The INS was founded in 1967 as a means of enhancing international communication across scientific disciplines about brain-behavioral relationships. There are approximately 4700 members throughout the world in...
Memory Cafés Serve Comfort & Laughter to Community

Memory Cafés Serve Comfort & Laughter to Community

It’s been 12 years since Alzheimer’s disease ended my mother’s time on earth. I miss her every day, and there is comfort in the words of Morrie Schwartz (Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom), “As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on—in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here. Death ends a life, not a relationship.” Truth is, the older we get, the more precious are our memories. Once gone, what would we pay to get them back? Tragically, Alzheimer’s disease robs its victims and their families of the most tenacious grip onto their memories, and ultimately – of the very presence of their loved ones. THE CONCEPT OF ‘MEMORY CAFES’ The idea of Memory Cafés originated in the Netherlands in 1997, then spread to England in 2000. The first Alzheimer’s Café in the United States started in 2008 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Today the number of memory cafés in the US is well over 200 and growing. Memory cafés are a safe haven for people experiencing early stage dementia, mild memory loss, or cognitive impairment, while offering concerned family members a hopeful connection to others in the larger dementia-care community. “It’s a group of people coming together and having a good time,” said Susan McFadden, Ph.D., one of the founders of Fox Valley Memory Project. Susan is a gerontologist, professor emerita in the psychology department at the University...