Sunday, March 29, 2009

Thank you North Central Texas

I was the guest of the North Central Texas Alzheimer's Assn. chapter last week. I spoke at a conference they were holding and it had a great turnout. Over 400 people were registered and despite bad weather I think they all came. Shelley Bluethmann from the National Office and I were invited to be their keynote speakers. I really enjoyed my time there (although brief) and I appreciate the warm hospitality of all the Texans. Shelly Young did a great job of putting the event together and Theresa Hocker was a great hostess as well. The photo above isn't too good, but I wanted to model the cowboy hat they gave me as an "honorary Texan". Thanks for having me -- I really appreciated meeting everyone and sharing my story.

I arrived back to Athens to rainy dreary days but I was pretty exhausted so I took the opportunity to rest. More next week.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Facts and Figures

Today, news Facts and Figures were released by the Alzheimer's Association. For a link to the study go here:

More news will be coming out this week about the Alzheimer's study group so please watch for more on that.

On another note, my friend Josh, who I have written about was recently interviewed by NBC Nightly News. The piece aired last night. Josh is doing so much better and he looks great on the video. I'm posting two links -- one that was the piece that aired and the other was a "web only" piece.

Check them out.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Busy Week

This weekend our UGA Women's basketball team plays in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The tournament is being held about 50 miles from home in Duluth Georgia. UGA is the actual host of the tournament even though it is not at UGA. Anyway, I am actually working the event this weekend. A friend of mine in the athletic department needed some help so I am working it . Yesterday was the first day of practice and today are the first two games. It hasn't been too bad so far -- I'm anxious for the games to begin.

Next week, I'm off to Texas where I will meet someone with the Alzheimer's Association for a meeting. We are going to be keynote speakers at an event the Texas Alzheimer's Associaton is having. So far, 400 people have signed up for the conference. I'm looking forward to it.

This weekend starts the public policy forum in Washington DC. Please be watching for lots of news out of this conference.

More when I return from Texas.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Public Policy Forum

It's not too late to register for the Public Policy Forum hosted by the Alzheimer's Association at the end of this month in Washington DC. If you register before March 13th there is a discount. Go to for more information.

At this year's conference the Alzheimer's Study Group (ASG) will be presenting their findings from an almost two year study of the state of Alzheimer's in the United States. The ASG was originated by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who heads the for profit organization Center for Health Transformation. The ASG is a bipartisan study and one of its members is Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Last year she and Speaker Gingrich spoke to a senate subcommittee during the Public Policy Forum on what they were trying to accomplish. This year, the results are in and the findings will be revealed at the Public Policy Forum. I have been fortunate to be involved with a group that gave input to the ASG and I'm anxious to see how some of these ideas and thoughts we had made its way into the study. Hopefully, we will learn a lot and hopefully, some of these ideas can be implemented to not only save the government some money in dealing with Alzheimer's but also to help the families struggling with this disease. If you can't make it to the forum, please watch the news toward the end of the month because it will certainly be making headlines.

Also, at this year's forum there will be an early stage summitt which will feature Still Alice author Lisa Genova who I have written about several times. I learned this week that a friend in Atlanta who has Alzheimer's and his wife will be joining Lisa during a panel discussion.

Alzhiemer's will be in the news --there's lots going on.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Alzheimer's Day at the Georgia State Capitol

About 300 advocates emerged on Atlanta yesterday to talk to our legislators about issues dealing with Alzheimer's. It was a great day. We were all wearing purple t-shirts that said "voice" across the front. There was a press conference with the Governor which drew some press to the event. The Governor's mother-in-law was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's so this is also a personal thing for him.

We had people come in buses from all over the state. Ralph and I went and there were a few other people from around our area there including a new friend I have made, Bill Dotson. I was deeply touched that my daughter-in-law's father, Charles Lee also showed up to be with us. I didn't know he was coming and it really meant a lot to me that he would take time out of his day to join us.

Most of the legislators we met with were receptive to what we had to say but with the budget the way it is in our state (and probably almost every other state) we will have to see what happens. One thing I have been working towards is an Alzheimer's Task Force that would look at issues such as driving assessments, emergency placement and better long term health care. This is something that will not take a lot of money but just requires some time and effort on some of our legislators part.
Thanks to Kathy Simpson and Ginny Helms of the Georgia Alzheimer's Assn. for putting this together. I look forward to next year's event.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Pick Up Sticks

Now that the snow has passed and it is 70 plus degrees outside today, it is time to go out and pick up all the limbs and branches that fell off our trees during the snow/ice storm. It did a lot of damage in Athens and we will be picking up debris for awhile.

Monday is our Advocacy Day at the Capitol in Atlanta. There will be a press conference with the Governor that I will be speaking at and hopefully we can get some people's attention on Monday.

Last week, when our power was out, I had a lady call me from Missouri. She had seen an article in a magazine about me and my struggles with Alzheimer's and she was desperate to talk to someone. Her husband, 64, has been showing signs of Alzheimer's (loss of short term memory, confusion, getting lost) and she needed to talk. She had been letting her husband do all the financial things around the house and as a result the house is in foreclosure and there are some issues she is having to deal with because these things were not tended to. One of her first questions to me was "do you have problems with math?" That seems to be a universal problem with all of us -- and I think she was relieved to know that but at the same time realized how much of a mess she was in. She couldn't talk long because she didn't want her husband hearing her talking to me. Since the power was out I couldn't look up the 800 Alzheimer's number but I told her how to get it and I hope she will call. She asked if she could call me again and of course I said yes. I hope she can find some help somewhere. At least she realizes that there is a problem there.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Snow photos

The newspaper said we got 6.5 inches of snow. The most Athens has ever had was 8 inches and that was in 1983. We remember that one too but this snow was so wet and heavy that it did a lot more damage. In the last photo I decided to take my black cat out to play in the snow with me. She didn't like it much! We didn't make the snow creatures -- someone else on our block did.
I was starting to get a little panicky after about 24 hours without power. Not from being without power but just not having things be normal.
Over the weekend, I was in Macon for the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame induction. Our UGA women's basketball coach was being inducted. While there I met with the Macon Alzheimer's Development Director and got to meet a lovely couple they serve. Cheryl and Norman met us for breakfast. Their daughter has been active with their association as well since her father was first diagnosed. They were a lovely couple and I hope I get to see them again next week at our state Advocacy Day in Atlanta.


Well, we got hit with some pretty big snow this past weekend. It was beautiful and I'm going to post some photos later -- I know you Northerners will be used to it. (I am a transplanted one you know) -- but with it brought massive power outages. We lost our power on Sunday night about 5 p.m. and got it back 31 hours later! So, I'm just catching up to things on the internet. We were lucky that we have a gas stove and at least we could heat water and cook some things. We took hot water to our neighbors so they could at least have soup and coffee.

By Friday it is suppose to be 70 degrees here. Go figure. More soon.