Saturday, March 15, 2008

Remembering Alzheimer's

It's Saturday. This morning as I woke up I turned on the radio by habit and heard a man talking. Odd. Morning Edition doesn't happen on Saturday and Weekend Edition doesn't start for an hour or two. WABE has changed their schedule....
Turns out I was hearing a rebroadcast of The Infinite Mind's program last year, Remembering Alzheimer's.

The site is not easy to navigate because they are very much into selling the program, not giving it away, but this is one of their best. Those who have yet to discover this rich, informative series of productions are in for a treat. I've heard them for years on the radio and it is some of the best journalism being generated today.

Today's replay is a case in point. I heard the program when it first played last year but forgot. (Hmm...maybe I'm...No. Surely not...) so I don't plan to buy the CD or transcript.
But here is a link to highly-recommended listening.

"Remembering Alzheimer's" features American Public Media's Brian Newhouse who examines the impact that Alzheimer's had on his father and family. The show also includes conversations with leading researcher Dr. Marilyn Albert, Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, and Dr. Peter Reed, Senior Director of Programs for the National Alzheimer's Association.

Additionally, we hear a dramatic and gripping first-person account of what it's like to live with Alzheimer's, from James Smith, 47 years old, a former executive with American Express who was recently diagnosed with the illness.

With disarming candor the subject speaks clearly in a matter of fact manner about the onset and progress of his disease. At the time of the interview he has already equipped his car with a speaking GPS navigator with a "Go Home" button to push if he gets lost. He has had to use it a couple of times already, but this man, once an accomplished IT professional for whom multi-talking was an everyday practice, became self-aware enough to know that when he drives his car he cannot allow himself to listen to the radio, talk to passengers, or allow his concentration on the details of driving to slip. Safety is now his main concern as he faces his future with model determination to live every day as fully as his disease will allow.

The journalist also has more than a casual interest, having lost his own father to Alzheimer's several years ago, knowing that there is a genetic link to the disease. This is powerful, serious stuff. Highly recommended listening.

[As I said, navigation of the site is not easy. Here is a guide to discover the link to an audio feed. Home page first. There are two search fields. Use the first one and key in "Remembering Alzheimer's". On the Google search list click the first item. Another page opens with another search field. Don't search. Scroll down about nine or ten items (they are in reverse order by date) and look for "REMEMBERNG ALZHEIMER'S: A SPECIAL REPORT (broadcast starting November 28, 2007)." Look for the "Listen now" icon. The program is one hour.]

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