WBEZ | Alzheimer's http://www.wbez.org/tags/alzheimers Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Can Dementia be Prevented? Education May Bolster Brain Against Risk http://www.wbez.org/news/can-dementia-be-prevented-education-may-bolster-brain-against-risk-114829 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/knowledge-tree_slide-231995ee55735ba2fb011e8ab30272470c8e9df7-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res466433587" previewtitle="Nanette Hoogslag/Getty Images/Ikon Images"><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Nanette Hoogslag/Getty Images/Ikon Images" src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/02/11/knowledge-tree_slide-231995ee55735ba2fb011e8ab30272470c8e9df7-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="(Nanette Hoogslag/Getty Images/Ikon Images)" /></div><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><p>The odds of getting Alzheimer&#39;s disease or other forms of dementia are declining for people who are more educated and avoiding heart disease, a study finds. The results suggest that people may have some control over their risk of dementia as they age.</p><p>This isn&#39;t the first study to find that the incidence of dementia is waning, but it may be the best so far. Researchers looked at 30 years of records from more than 5,000 people in the famed Framingham Heart Study, which has closely tracked the health of volunteers in Framingham, Mass.</p><p>They found that the incidence of dementia declined about 20 percent per decade starting in the 1970s &mdash; but only in people who had at least a high school education. The decline in people diagnosed with Alzheimer&#39;s wasn&#39;t statistically significant, but there were fewer people with Alzheimer&#39;s, which could have affected that result.</p><p>The study, which was&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1504327">published</a>&nbsp;Wednesday in the&nbsp;<em>New England Journal of Medicine</em>, also looked at risk factors for heart disease and stroke, including smoking, obesity and high blood pressure. They found that the people who had better markers for cardiovascular health, such as normal blood pressure, were also less likely to develop dementia.</p><p>&quot;That&#39;s telling us that perhaps better management of cardiovascular disease could potentially help in the reduction of dementia,&quot; says&nbsp;<a href="http://profiles.bu.edu/display/49141807">Claudia Satizabal</a>, an author of the study and an instructor in neurology at the Boston University School of Medicine.</p><p>To figure out what this all means, we called&nbsp;<a href="http://micda.psc.isr.umich.edu/people/profile/566/Kenneth_M_Langa">Dr. Kenneth Langa</a>, a professor at the University of Michigan who also studies trends in dementia. Here are highlights from the conversation edited for length and clarity.</p><p><strong>One of the very confusing things about this is that even though an individual may be less likely to get dementia than they were 40 years ago, the number of people with dementia is going up. Why is that?</strong></p><p>It&#39;s an interesting and sometimes complicated concept. The number of cases in the population could still be going up in the future because of the larger number of adults.</p><p>It&#39;s very easy to get your wires crossed when you think of &quot;what&#39;s my own individual risk&quot; versus the number of people in the population.</p><p>It&#39;s certain that we&#39;ll have significantly more older people in the United States and around the world, so now the big question is &mdash; on an individual level, what&#39;s going on with the risk? Does a 70-year-old today have the same risk as one 20 years ago?</p><p><strong>And you&#39;re finding a trend similar to what the researchers reported this week &mdash; a declining risk of dementia in the United States.</strong></p><p>We&#39;ve been looking at data from the&nbsp;<a href="http://hrsonline.isr.umich.edu/">Health and Retirement Study</a>, large study funded by the National Institute on Aging and the Social Security Administration. We&#39;ve been collecting data on older folks in the United States since 1992. We&#39;re finding a decline in the prevalence of dementia and cognitive decline very much in line with the Framingham Study report.</p><p><strong>You also are finding that a person&#39;s level of education is a key driver in dementia risk. Is that because education makes your brain stronger, or that educated people are healthier overall?</strong></p><p>That&#39;s a big question, and one I&#39;ll be focusing on for the rest of my career.</p><p>I&#39;ll give you my usual researcher on-the-fence answer: I think it&#39;s a bit of both. I do think there is a direct biological effect of using your brain and having it interact with the world. You may have heard the term cognitive reserve, which means your brain gets wired up differently if it&#39;s challenged.</p><p>I&#39;m a believer that there is a causal effect of education on how your brain is challenged. But I definitely would agree that that&#39;s not the only pathway.</p><p>Education sets you off on a different path in your life; it sends you into different occupations. You may live in different neighborhoods, have less stress, have more money. That gives you access to better health care and social networks.</p><p>But still, if I do my 12 years or 14 years or 16 years of school, I don&#39;t think that 100 percent determines your risk of dementia.</p><p><strong>You&#39;ve also found that our parents&#39; level of education may affect dementia risk.</strong></p><p>It&#39;s very intriguing; a mother&#39;s education may be more important than a father&#39;s education. Again there are lots of complicated pathways you can talk about, but one that we and other researchers are trying to follow up on is whether a more educated mom may interact with a child in ways that are more beneficial to the developing brain of a child.</p><p>How your brain is nurtured throughout life is a really fascinating part of this story.</p><p><strong>The study published this week didn&#39;t look explicitly at exercise, but that does affect cardiovascular health. Could it help prevent dementia?</strong></p><p>The evidence both from animals in the cage and epidemiological studies shows that physical activity seems quite important for keeping your blood vessels healthy, and probably some specific growth factors that help the neurons in the brain. The general point that was brought out in the Framingham study is that cardiovascular fitness is very important.</p><p><strong>You and other researchers have pointed out that the trend toward more obesity and diabetes in the United States could threaten this more hopeful trend toward lower risk of dementia. When might that happen?</strong></p><p>The short answer is I think we don&#39;t know. Again, there are so many complicated interacting pathways going on here we can&#39;t really be sure what will happen.</p><p>Even though the number of people with diabetes has really skyrocketed in the past 20 or 30 years, it also seems to be that having diabetes doesn&#39;t have as many bad complications as it did 20 or 30 years ago. There&#39;s been a decline in things like heart attacks and amputations due to vascular complications. More aggressive treatment of diabetes and high blood pressure and cholesterol is probably one of the factors that&#39;s caused this decline in complications.</p><p><strong>We&#39;re all terrified of getting Alzheimer&#39;s. Given that being heart healthy seems to reduce that risk, why aren&#39;t we all exercising like crazy?</strong></p><p>It&#39;s still complicated, I think. Part of it is that it&#39;s a benefit that&#39;s going to come to you 20 or 25 years later; it&#39;s not easy to motivate people even with something as feared as Alzheimer&#39;s disease. I&#39;m an internist. I see middle-aged people with diabetes and hypertension and tell them about these findings. But it can be tough to motivate people.</p><p><strong>What else can people do to reduce the risk?</strong></p><p>These findings are optimistic; it&#39;s not a done deal. But there do seem to be things we can do not only from an individual perspective but from a public policy perspective, for instance, making education as available as possible to people in the United States and other countries.</p><p>I tell my patients, &quot;You can do everything right and still get Alzheimer&#39;s disease and dementia.&quot; It&#39;s a question of trying to change your risk to make it as low as possible.</p><p>The research that is ongoing to find medical interventions to affect the trajectory of the disease are still important to do also.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/02/11/466403316/can-dementia-be-prevented-education-may-bolster-brain-against-risk?ft=nprml&amp;f=466403316"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 12 Feb 2016 11:58:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/can-dementia-be-prevented-education-may-bolster-brain-against-risk-114829 Can a cancer drug reverse Parkinson's disease and dementia? http://www.wbez.org/news/can-cancer-drug-reverse-parkinsons-disease-and-dementia-113397 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/parkinsons-1_custom-162d2c49eedb6c0f14a6db56cc27faa6b1cc8ee5-s600-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res449200871" previewtitle="Alan Hoffman, shown with his wife Nancy at their home in Dumfries, Va., found that his Parkinson's symptom improved when he took a cancer drug."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Alan Hoffman, shown with his wife Nancy at their home in Dumfries, Va., found that his Parkinson's symptom improved when he took a cancer drug." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/16/parkinsons-1_custom-162d2c49eedb6c0f14a6db56cc27faa6b1cc8ee5-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="Alan Hoffman, shown with his wife Nancy at their home in Dumfries, Va., found that his Parkinson's symptom improved when he took a cancer drug. (Claire Harbage for NPR)" /></div><div><div><p>A drug that&#39;s already approved for treating leukemia appears to dramatically reduce symptoms in people who have Parkinson&#39;s disease with dementia, or a related condition called Lewy body dementia.</p></div></div></div><p>A pilot study of 12 patients given small doses of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.us.tasigna.com/index.jsp">nilotinib</a>&nbsp;found that movement and mental function improved in all of the 11 people who completed the six-month trial, researchers reported Saturday at the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.sfn.org/annual-meeting/neuroscience-2015">Society for Neuroscience meeting</a>&nbsp;in Chicago.</p><p>And for several patients the improvements were dramatic, says&nbsp;<a href="https://neurology.georgetown.edu/faculty/pagan">Fernando Pagan</a>, an author of the study and director of the Movement Disorders Program at Georgetown University Medical Center. One woman regained the ability to feed herself, one man was able to stop using a walker, and three previously nonverbal patients began speaking again, Pagan says.</p><p>&quot;After 25 years in Parkinson&#39;s disease research, this is the most excited I&#39;ve ever been,&quot; Pagan says.</p><p>If the drug&#39;s effectiveness is confirmed in larger, placebo-controlled studies, nilotinib could become the first treatment to interrupt a process that kills brain cells in Parkinson&#39;s and other neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer&#39;s.</p><p>One of the patients in the pilot study was Alan Hoffman, 74, who lives with his wife, Nancy, in Northern Virginia.</p><p>Hoffman was diagnosed with Parkinson&#39;s in 1997. At first, he had trouble moving his arms. Over time, walking became more difficult and his speech became slurred. And by 2007, the disease had begun to affect his thinking.</p><p>&quot;I knew I&#39;d dropped off in my ability to read,&quot; Hoffman says. &quot;People would keep giving me books and I&#39;d have read the first chapter of about 10 of them. I had no ability to focus on it.&quot;</p><p>&quot;He had more and more difficulty making sense,&quot; Nancy Hoffman says. He also became less active, less able to have conversations, and eventually stopped doing even household chores, she says.</p><p>But after a few weeks on nilotinib, Hoffman &quot;improved in every way,&quot; his wife says. &quot;He began loading the dishwasher, loading the clothes in the dryer, things he had not done in a long time.&quot;</p><p>Even more surprising, Hoffman&#39;s scores on cognitive tests began to improve. At home, Nancy Hoffman says her husband was making sense again and regained his ability to focus. &quot;He actually read the David McCullough book on the Wright Brothers and started reading the paper from beginning to end,&quot; she says.</p><p>The idea of using nilotinib to treat people like Alan Hoffman came from&nbsp;<a href="http://explore.georgetown.edu/people/cem46/">Charbel Moussa</a>, an assistant professor of neurology at Georgetown University and an author of the study.</p><p><strong>Before and after taking nilotinib</strong></p><p>Mary Leigh has had Parkinson&#39;s Disease for almost 20 years. Here she is before the treatment and after five months of being on the drug.</p><div id="res449223084"><div id="slideshow449223084" style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="338" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/templates/event/embeddedVideo.php?storyId=448323916&amp;mediaId=449223084" width="600"></iframe></div><div>(Courtesy of Georgetown University)</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div style="text-align: center;"><iframe frameborder="0" height="338" scrolling="no" src="http://www.npr.org/templates/event/embeddedVideo.php?storyId=448323916&amp;mediaId=449241356" width="600"></iframe></div><div>(Courtesy of Georgetown University)</div></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Moussa knew that in people who have&nbsp;<a href="http://www.alz.org/dementia/parkinsons-disease-symptoms.asp">Parkinson&#39;s disease with dementia</a>&nbsp;or a related condition called&nbsp;<a href="https://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/lewy-body-dementia/introduction">Lewy body dementia</a>, toxic proteins build up in certain brain cells, eventually killing them. Moussa thought nilotinib might be able to reverse this process.</p><p>His reasoning was that nilotinib activates a system in cells that works like a garbage disposal &mdash; it clears out unwanted proteins. Also, Moussa had shown that while cancer cells tend to die when exposed to nilotinib, brain cells actually become healthier.</p><p>So Moussa had his lab try the drug on brain cells in a Petri dish. &quot;And we found that, surprisingly, with a very little amount of the drug we can clear all these proteins that are supposed to be neurotoxic,&quot; he says.</p><p>Next, Moussa had his team give the drug to transgenic mice that were almost completely paralyzed from Parkinson&#39;s disease. The treatment &quot;rescued&quot; the animals, he says, allowing them to move almost as well as healthy mice.</p><p>Moussa&#39;s mice got the attention of Pagan from Georgetown&#39;s Movement Disorders Program. &quot;When Dr. Moussa showed them to me,&quot; Pagan says, &quot;it looked like, hey, this is type of drug that we&#39;ve been looking for because it goes to the root of the problem.&quot;</p><p>The pilot study was designed to determine whether nilotinib was safe for Parkinson&#39;s patients and to determine how much drug from the capsules they were taking was reaching their brains. &quot;But we also saw efficacy, which is really unheard of in a safety study,&quot; Pagan says.</p><p>The study found that levels of toxic proteins in blood and spinal fluid decreased once patients began taking nilotinib. Also, tests showed that the symptoms of Parkinson&#39;s including tremor and &quot;freezing&quot; decreased. And during the study patients were able to use lower doses of Parkinson&#39;s drugs, suggesting that the brain cells that produce dopamine were working better.</p><p>But there are some caveats, Pagan says. For one thing, the study was small, not designed to measure effectiveness, and included no patients taking a placebo.</p><p>Also, nilotinib is very expensive. The cost of providing it to leukemia patients is thousands of dollars a month.</p><div id="res449201324" previewtitle="Hoffman says his symptoms have gotten worse since he stopped taking the medication as part of a study."><div data-crop-type=""><img alt="Hoffman says his symptoms have gotten worse since he stopped taking the medication as part of a study." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/16/parkinsons-2_custom-ae81fad485eeb2e0ca45b16ccf7d9a25c8ccad9a-s600-c85.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="Hoffman says his symptoms have gotten worse since he stopped taking the medication as part of a study. (Claire Harbage for NPR)" /></div><div data-crop-type="">And finally, Parkinson&#39;s and dementia patients would have to keep taking nilotinib indefinitely or their symptoms would continue to get worse.</div></div><p>Alan Hoffman was okay for about three weeks after the study ended and he stopped taking the drug. Since then, &quot;There&#39;s (been) a pretty big change,&quot; his wife says. &quot;He does have more problems with his speech, and he has more problems with cognition and more problems with mobility.&quot;</p><p>The Hoffmans hope to get more nilotinib from the drug&#39;s maker, Novartis, through a special program for people who improve during experiments like this one.</p><p>Meanwhile, the Georgetown team plans to try nilotinib in patients with another brain disease that involves toxic proteins: Alzheimer&#39;s.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/10/17/448323916/can-a-cancer-drug-reverse-parkinsons-disease-and-dementia?ft=nprml&amp;f=448323916" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 19 Oct 2015 11:57:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/can-cancer-drug-reverse-parkinsons-disease-and-dementia-113397 Afternoon Shift: Caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s and dementia http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2015-05-18/afternoon-shift-caring-loved-ones-alzheimer%E2%80%99s-and-dementia <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Ronn%20aka%20Blue%20Aldaman.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="(Photo: Flickr/Ronn aka " /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/206108650&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-size: 24px;">How to care for loved ones with Alzheimer&#39;s and dementia</span></div><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p dir="ltr" style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-bb640378-6914-d4f1-1011-51e206ff8745">Alzheimer&rsquo;s is now the sixth leading cause of death among U.S. adults. We discuss the difference between Alzheimer&rsquo;s and dementia, what signs you need to look for, and what the latest in treatment and research can tell us. For this discussion we are joined by Janette Foley, of Chicagoland Methodist Senior Services and Bob Tucker, &nbsp;a senior advocate at the Alzheimer&rsquo;s Foundation of America in Northbrook.</span><br /><br /><strong>Guests:</strong></p><ul dir="ltr"><li><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-bb640378-6914-d4f1-1011-51e206ff8745">Janette Foley is the administrator for dementia services at </span><a href="http://www.cmsschicago.org/about-us/staff-board-members.aspx">Chicagoland Methodist Senior Services</a>.</em></li><li><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-bb640378-6914-d4f1-1011-51e206ff8745">Bob Tucker is a senior advocate at the </span><a href="http://www.alzfdn.org/">Alzheimer&rsquo;s Foundation of America</a> in Northbrook.</em></li></ul></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/206108330&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-size: 24px;">Pint of Science brings together scientists, the public and booze</span></div><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p dir="ltr" style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-bb640378-6916-3616-27f3-ab08d6b86d2e">Talking science with scientists might seem impossible or at least intimidating for the average person. But Pint of Science, a global event now in its third year, wants to provide that opportunity and make it more relaxed...which is why it&rsquo;s at a bar. So, if you feel like stopping off for a drink after work and you want a quick science lesson and the opportunity to talk to an actual scientist, this is the fest for you. Pint of Science runs May 18 - 20. &nbsp;</span><br /><br /><strong>Guests:</strong></p><ul dir="ltr"><li><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-bb640378-6916-3616-27f3-ab08d6b86d2e">Tim Fessenden is a PhD student at the University of Chicago and Marketing Director for </span><a href="https://twitter.com/pintofscienceUS?lang=en">Pint of Science</a> Chicago.</em></li><li><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-bb640378-6916-3616-27f3-ab08d6b86d2e">Katie Long is a MD-PhD student at the University of Chicago and City Coordinator for </span><a href="https://pintofscience.us/teams/chicago-team/">Pint of Science Chicago</a>.</em></li><li><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-bb640378-6916-3616-27f3-ab08d6b86d2e"><a href="https://twitter.com/danthecancerman">Daniel Leventhal</a></span> is a graduate student at the University of Chicago and Pint of Science Chicago City Coordinator.</em></li></ul></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/205368904&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-size: 24px;">Inauguration day means new faces and tough issues at City Hall</span></div><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p dir="ltr" style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-bb640378-6918-1c87-48bf-b546451c17fc">May 18 is inauguration day 2015 in Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the city clerk, treasurer and the new City Council were sworn in on Monday at the Chicago Theater. WBEZ&rsquo;s Lauren Chooljian introduces us to the new aldermen and the issues they&rsquo;ll face this term. </span><br /><br /><strong>Guest:</strong><em> <a href="http://www.twitter.com/laurenchooljian">Lauren Chooljian</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s city politics reporter.</em></p></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/206107496&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-size: 24px;">Meet the new City Council</span></div><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p dir="ltr" style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-bb640378-691c-75a3-9fac-c3841646a57a">Chicago&rsquo;s City Council was sworn in on Monday, May 18. Thirteen newcomers were added to this term&rsquo;s class of aldermen and they&rsquo;ll be facing some of the toughest issues ever to come before the City Council. Aldertrack&rsquo;s Mike Fourcher joins us to talk about the inauguration and what we can expect from our new City Council. </span><br /><br /><strong>Guest:</strong> <em><a href="http://www.twitter.com/vouchey">Mike Fourcher</a> is a founder of Aldertrack.</em></p></div><p><br /><br /><iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/206109975&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-size: 24px;">Tech Shift: How to upset the downward trend of women in tech</span></div><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p dir="ltr" style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-bb640378-691d-fdef-cf4c-1cc075138878">Suzanne Muchin leads Mind + Matter Studio in Chicago. She and Amanda Lannert, CEO of Jellyvision, were tired of the trend pieces and think pieces about the problem of women being underrepresented in tech businesses that didn&rsquo;t focus enough on tangible solutions. So they published a list of the five things they&rsquo;re dedicated to actually doing to help boost women in the workplace. Suzanne joins us in studio to explain the piece in detail.</span><br /><br /><strong>Guest:</strong> <em><a href="about:blank">Suzanne Muchin</a> is a founder of <a href="http://mindandmatterstudio.com/about-us/about-rachel-suzanne/">Mind + Matter Studio</a>.</em></p></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/206107499&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><div class="image-insert-image " style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-size: 24px;">Avian flu continues to impact Midwest poultry&nbsp;</span></div><div style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><p dir="ltr" style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Avian flu is on the rise across the Midwest. It&rsquo;s affecting poultry flocks in more than a dozen states including Minnesota, Indiana, and Iowa, where 40% of all egg hens have the disease. WBEZ food reporter Monica Eng has details about what this means for farmers and consumers.</p><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-bb640378-691e-b92b-3104-4ba8187facb8">Guest: </span></strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">Monica Eng</a> is a WBEZ reporter.</em></div><p>&nbsp;</p><iframe width="100%" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/206107506&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false"></iframe></p> Mon, 18 May 2015 16:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2015-05-18/afternoon-shift-caring-loved-ones-alzheimer%E2%80%99s-and-dementia Improv for Alzheimer's: 'A sense of accomplishment' http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-14/improv-alzheimers-sense-accomplishment-90592 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//npr_story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-15/Alzheimer&#039;s_Flickr_Ann Gordon.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Many newly diagnosed Alzheimer's patients go through the stressful phase of realizing they are losing their memory while still having enough insight to know that, over time, they will no longer be able to care for themselves.</p><p>So a team of researchers from Chicago — a city known for improvisational theater — is testing a new idea of whether unscripted theater games can affect the well-being of these patients.</p><p>"Improv is all about being in the moment, which for someone with memory loss, that is a very safe place," says Mary O'Hara, a social worker at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. "Maybe thinking about the past and trying to remember makes the person a little anxious or even a bit sad because their memory is failing. And maybe thinking about the future too much is also anxiety-provoking. So being in the moment is such a safe and a good place to be."</p><p>The Northwestern researchers are working with the Tony Award-winning Lookingglass Theatre Company. There are already theater programs that use improv for Alzheimer's patients in the later stages of the disease, but this collaboration is unique because it's for early-stage patients.</p><p>"There's no experience required, there's no script, there's no memorization," O'Hara says. "They bring to it just their creative potential. And they are so successful at this."</p><p>Christine Mary Dunford, with Lookingglass, leads the group of novice performers in very simple improv games.</p><p>One "of the basic tenets of improv that [is] perfect for working with people with dementia [is] the concept of yes," Dunford says. "So, fundamental to all our work is that whatever answer someone comes up with, the rest of us are going to be able to work with it."</p><p>Researchers don't expect these games to stop or slow the progress of Alzheimer's disease, but they are investigating whether engaging the creative abilities of these early-stage patients improves their lives.</p><p>Before and after the eight-week program, participants and their families are asked a series of questions, checking to see how the course changes their answers.</p><p>"We're asking people to tell us how they're feeling about their physical health, their mood," says Darby Morhardt, a research associate professor at Northwestern. "How do they feel about their memory? How did they feel about their family, about their relationships? And also, how do they feel about their current situation as a whole and their life as a whole?"</p><p>"When we think of people with Alzheimer's and other dementia, we think about people who are losing skills on a daily basis," says improv coach Dunford. "But here, they're learning some new things, too.</p><p>It gives them a feeling of — a sense of self-confidence that they were able to accomplish this. And in this disease, there's not a lot of opportunity to feel a sense of accomplishment."</p><div class="fullattribution">Copyright 2011 National Public Radio.</div></p> Sun, 14 Aug 2011 23:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/2011-08-14/improv-alzheimers-sense-accomplishment-90592 A healthy dose of laughter for patients suffering from memory loss http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-25/healthy-dose-laughter-patients-suffering-memory-loss-87012 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-May/2011-05-25/DSCN0553.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>If laughter is the best medicine then Chicago must be the feel-good city. After all, it's the home of improvisational theater. Now researchers at <a href="http://brain.northwestern.edu/" target="_blank">Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine </a>are looking at other benefits of laughter.</p><p>They’re exploring whether improv might be just what the doctor ordered for a certain group of patients.</p><p>For WBEZ, Julianne Hill reports.</p><p>Researchers want to know even more about the powers of imagination-- and laughter.&nbsp; They are looking at improv to see how it affects the well-being of an unusual group of patients.</p><p>At 10:30 a.m. on a Monday morning, about a dozen people file into an improvisational theater class. Among them, a pretty blond in her &nbsp;50s and a woman who is a retired biologist and wears big glasses. And a retired professor.</p><p>The course is held in a conference room at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and looks like any other continuing education class. But the players in this class are different: Everyone in the ensemble has dementia.</p><p>Mary O’Hara is a social worker at Northwestern’s Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center.</p><p>“Improv is all about being in the moment. For someone with memory loss, that is a very safe place. Maybe thinking about the past and trying to remember makes the person a little bit anxious. Or even a bit sad because their memory is failing. And maybe thinking about the future too much is also anxiety provoking So being in the moment is such a safe and a good place to be,” O’Hara explained.</p><p>Northwestern’s researchers are working with the Lookingglass Theater Company. They want to know if this 8-week program using theater games affects the players’ quality of life.</p><p>“There’s no experience required, there’s no script, there’s no memorization. They bring to it just their creative potential. And they are successful at this,” O’Hara said.</p><p>Christine Mary Dunford with the Lookingglass led the group of novice performers in very simple improv games.</p><p>“Some of the basic tenants of improv that are perfect for working with people with dementia are the concept of yes, or yes and. So fundamental to all our work is that whatever answer someone comes up with the rest of us are going to be able to work with it,” Dunford began. “My favorite moments are when they are delighting each other and they have a lot of fun. You know what I think my favorite exercise of all time is? ‘Yes It Is’ because they take an object and they transform it and they always surprise themselves and the others. And it’s always magical and exciting,” Dunford explained.</p><p>Later, Dunford told the players to stand in a circle for a listening game called, “Chord.”</p><p>“We’re going to close our eyes and we’re just going to hum on the same sound. After a while, when it starts feeling really good, anybody who wants to can change the pitch or add a different kind of sound,” Dunford said.</p><p>After about two minutes, the chord morphed into nature sounds.</p><p>“We’re never trying to be funny. We’re just an improvisation group: We’re an ensemble of people working together and it ends up being funny quite often but just as often it ends up being touching or moving or provoking,” Dunford explained.</p><p>The players—like Wolfgang—all brought their lifetimes of experience into the room.</p><p>“I was a professor of Hebrew studies, old testament at this university here, oh, in the northern suburbs here. I have Alzheimer’s and that’s why I don’t remember it but you know it was one of the big universities in this area,” Wolfgang shared.</p><p>The group plays sculptor, molding one another into an emotion.</p><p>“One of you is the sculptor and one of you is the clay,” Dunford instructed the group.</p><p>Outside the room, Wolfgang’s wife Mary Beth waited for him.</p><p>Hill asked her what it’s like being the caregiver of someone with dementia, watching him lose skills on a day-by-day basis and to come to class and thinking that he’ll learn something.</p><p>“I know this is a study but, this is an opportunity for us to enjoy something.; partly together and partly separately. My hope for him is he maintains this very sweet disposition. There is still so much of him there. And we still have a deep relationship.&nbsp; The hardest thing for me is,” Mary Beth struggled, “that it can’t really grow.”</p><p>Early results show the players experience an improved quality of life; Wolfgang agreed.</p><p>“I think we all have become more thoughtful in terms of the work in which we live. And it will indirectly show itself with our interactions with our family we have grandchildren, a wife, etc. etc. and also in the wider world,” Wolfgang said.</p><p>Julianne Hill is a freelance writer and producer, and a former recipient of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for journalists covering mental health.</p><p><em>Music Button: Second Sky, "Under The Line", from the CD The Art of Influence, (ESL)</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 25 May 2011 14:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-05-25/healthy-dose-laughter-patients-suffering-memory-loss-87012