Liz Smith: wOw’s Women Join the Fight Against Alzheimer’s

And more from our Liz: WWKD (what would Kate do?) … and a new role for Steve Cone

“WHAT would Kate do?” is the new watch word phrase for women in Great Britain who are tempted to over-indulge. “Would the Duchess of Cambridge eat that?” might be the follow-up. Every time they are inclined to reach for another sweet or whatever, this is what they are saying.

Meanwhile, Vogue‘s Anna Wintour is hot to get the newly-wed Kate for her fashion magazine cover. And, as Anna is the Queen of American fashion, I have no doubt she will, in time, succeed.

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I WENT out to California with the CEO of — the sainted Joni Evans — because wowOwow and Pfizer have joined together in the fight against Alzheimer’s, and AARP invited us to speak at their annual convention in Los Angeles. Pfizer’s renowned neurologist, Dr. Rachel Schindler, who has been writing on our site, joined me, comedic genius Lily Tomlin, and her gifted writer/partner Jane Wagner.

Lily, Jane and I knew nothing much about Alzheimer’s and general dementia and we figured we were part of the “comedy relief” for this effort. When Joni asked us onstage about our biggest fear when speaking of Alzheimer’s, we chorused: “Getting it and how to avoid it!”

We were one with the amazing audience that joined us in the Los Angeles Convention Center. There were so many heartbroken and worried people there who had intimate stories to tell and share and penetrating questions to ask us. It was quite an experience.

Lily told us about her uncle who had changed from being a somewhat pious moralist to becoming a randy sex addict. He didn’t realize what he was doing after he developed the disease. (She made us laugh in spite of it all when asked which personality she preferred. She quipped she feared it had to be the latter.)

Jane demanded to know what science and research were doing, and why they didn’t move forward into gene examination, female hormones and stem cell research full speed ahead?

I fear I was largely a disruptor and nitpicker in this crowd, but I was able to offer a research finding from Oxford’s British scientists, which says that vitamin B and folic acid have proved to reduce the perplexities of Alzheimer’s in a group of disturbed persons by 70%. In other words, we realized we should take our vitamins, keep busy, stay active, live to exercise.

We concluded and were told by Dr. Rachel that the research into this dread disease, which afflicts 36 million people and seems to prefer the female of the species, is forging ahead — although like AIDS awareness, Alzheimer’s and dementia may be years from solution. You can just bet, however, that the pharmaceutical companies are working on this night and day.

After that and some radio interviews and meeting a lot of nice people who had attended, we took ourselves to the downtown Ritz Carlton hotel where we sat in the LA Market bar and ordered quite a lot (for us) of margaritas, martinis and cosmos. So, I’d say our get-together was a big success, even if we didn’t solve anything.

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OH YES, and we were introduced for our symposium by a great guy, the author Steve Cone, who now works with AARP. (His official title is Executive Vice President of Integrated Value and Strategy.)

Steve has written several self-help books that aid one in making the most of oneself. His latest is called Steal These Ideas, and I can’t wait to do that very thing when it comes my way.

He told us a funny story about his parents, who had been big dog experts. They used to put together tasty hors d’oeuvres which were also chock full of items that were good for canines. They delighted in serving these tidbits with cocktails, then turning around and serving them, in front of guests, to their dogs.

Steve is already running with this idea, which he stole from his mother and father. He says he is going to call it Diet With Your Dogs.

5 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    I think everyone whose life has been touched by Alzheimer’s fears it – it is the proverbial “thief in the night” that robs us of our very being. Some of the newer drugs appear to “slow it down” but cannot cure it. And no one knows what causes it.  So no one knows how to prevent it.

  2. avatar Rho says:

    This is an awful thing, wish they would find a cure.  I have known many who have had this.

  3. avatar Count Snarkula says:

    For the last ten years of her life, my poor Grandmother could do nothing but sit on the couch and occasionally let out a bird call. Physically, perfectly healthy, but mentally just gone. It is a horrible thing to witness, and yet, she seemed perfectly happy. I really hate anything that robs us of our dignity.

  4. avatar D C says:

    I sit here and think, “I don’t want to live that life”… the one with Alzheimer’s.  But then… if I had it, would I want to live?  Not if I was terrified all the time, but what about if it was like Count’s Grandmother, who “seemed perfectly happy”?  The not knowing is always the frightening part. 

    Meanwhile, I’ll do a better job with my vitamins.

  5. avatar Chris Glass` says:

    I wish that these conferences were regional so more people could learn how recognize the signs of Alzheimer’s and learn how to cope when facing life as a caregiver. This insidious disease strips victims as well as family caregivers of a normal life. Had we known what to expect we could have worked with him in different ways. I would have hired more help.

    We cared for my father-in-law when he had dementia and he made our life a living hell – not because he was a terrible person but because he became unable to control his temper. He was over six foot with all his strength intact at the time. He broke ribs, cracked my hip in a fit of temper when I was slow loading his walker in the car and had horrible tantrums when he didn’t get his way. He never slept through the night and tested pens and markers on any surface in the house – he recognized no boundaries. We never knew what would set him off. I thank God every day that he was accepted into the Veterans home where he now resides.