Julianne Moore Wins Oscar Gold to help Raise Alzheimer’s Awareness in Still Alice

Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5 million Americans and it could reach 16 million by 2050

Dr. Ashford goes live to discuss on WCPN Radio Talk Show “The Sound of Ideas” with Mike McIntyre the day after Julianne Moore wins an Oscar award for her moving performance in “Still Alice.” Others from around the nation join in to discuss what effects this movie will have on the awareness and exposure of Alzheimer’s disease and other memory related diseases. I have transcribed the radio show but you can listen to the whole recording by clicking HERE!

Mr. McIntyre :

Its the Sound of Ideas from 90.3 WCPN Ideastream I am Mike McIntyre Good morning, thanks so much for joining us today.

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Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 5 million Americans and it could reach 16 million by 2050 as the population ages. It is a really terrible disease and many of us know someone, perhaps cared for some one, afflicted. There is no cure, no proven means of prevention, and no medicine to slow the diseases progression.  As devastating as the disease is for the elderly it can be even more painful on those  rare occasions when Alzheimer’s strikes early as depicted in the film, “Still Alice,” for which actress Julian Moore, last night, won Oscar gold for her portrayal of a young professor, wife, and mother struggling with early onset Alzheimer’s
“I can see the words hanging in front of me and I cant reach them and I don’t know who I am.”-Moore.

She noted in her acceptance speech that many with Alzheimer’s feel isolated and marginalized and that shining a light on the disease might help us to confront it and find a cure.  This morning we are providing some of that light in a be well edition of the sound of ideas.  Be Well is Ideastream’s ongoing multimedia health news and other information project, soon we will be bringing you extensive coverage of cancer and its treatment, this morning Alzheimer’s.

We are going to start the program today with Dr. J. Wesson Ashford, he is chair of the Alzheimer’s foundation of Americas memory screening advisory board he is also a clinical professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University and he is joining us from his home in Redwood City.  Dr. Ashford thanks so much for being with us.

Dr. Ashford :

Very nice to be with you from Redwood City California.

Mr. McIntyre :

Also with us in studio is Nancy Udelson she is the CEO of the Cleveland chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, very nice to have you here this morning. And also here is Cheryl Kanetsky she is Vice President of Programs and services there. We will have more guests later.

I wonder if last night, Nancy, this victory by Julianne Moore, its part of the pop culture its such a well watched, although it wasn’t particularly lustrous show last night, I didn’t think, but such a well watched event and Mrs. Moore I think the third major award or maybe even more that Julianne Moore picked up I just wonder about the importance of that in terms of visibility.

Nancy Udelson :

We think really that this is going to be huge for increasing Alzheimer’s awareness across the country, the buzz before the movie actually came out was that this would do for Alzheimer’s awareness what Philadelphia did for Aids.

Mr. McIntyre :

And that’s still your hope, and I wonder is it really true that we still don’t have awareness of Alzheimer’s it seems, such a common, so many people have been affected, I know several people’s parents suffered from that.

Nancy Udelson :

It is unbelievable how many people really don’t know very much about Alzheimer’s disease and its also, part of it is there is still a stigma, there is still fear about it, and so unfortunately too many people “stay in the closet,” so to speak and don’t really come out and say “I have Alzheimer’s and here I am,” and that is really important.

Mike McIntyre :

Dr. Ashford, we saw in the film, Still Alice as Julianne Moore as a relatively young woman being diagnosed, that is still pretty uncommon isn’t it?

Dr. Ashford :

Yes and I think that one of the things I heard her say in an interview is that the  reason that Lisa Genova (writer) picked a younger case is because it is so much more striking than an the older case that people relegate as said “To the Closet,” but one of the things in the movie is that she was very aware that she was having problem and most of the patients that have this are not aware they are having a problem. The exceptions tend to be the more highly educated more active individuals who can be aware of their problem.  When you compare this to the HIV epidemic, the people with HIV are extremely concerned and extremely active people that know their problem .  With a case of older Alzheimer’s patients, devastating a whole family, they either don’t think they have a problem and no one wants to deal with it.

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