Tag Archives: Alzheimers

Something’s afoot

You know Sherlock Holmes from novels, television and film.


Mr. Holmes gives us the man behind the myth — the real detective that was fictionalized some 30 years after his last case.

This Holmes is 93 years old, frail and in the early stages of what appears to be Alzheimers. Aware that his memory is fading, he returns to his country home (and his bees) to attempt to piece together the forgotten details of his final case — a failure that made him leave sleuthing for good.

But why can’t he remember that mistake?

Ian McKellen is wonderful in the title role…more human and less ticky than his predecessors, although just as brutally honest. Laura Linney’s accent comes and goes as the dour housekeeper, but Milo Parker is winning as her son Roger, who helps Holmes care for his bees and ultimately find his past.

There’s even a little something for fans of Young Sherlock Holmes, which I am…so I left the theater happy.

See this

Last night Julianne Moore won a SAG Award for her work in Still Alice.

still aliceI saw the movie on Sunday, so I know why.

Her portrayal of a 50-year old Columbia University professor with early on-set Alzheimer’s is amazing…because you can’t see what she’s doing.

She simply has Alzheimer’s.

And everyone around her in the movie looks like they’re acting.

In the movie scene represented by the still above, Julianne’s character is out running in her New York City neighborhood, and is suddenly lost.  She starts to hyperventilate, and everything becomes an unrecognizable blur. The audience is in there with her.

It’s really scary.

I won’t pretend this movie is easy to watch, but I think it’s important to see.

The producers

If you’re a fan of Downton Abbey — and really, who isn’t — you’ve no doubt seen this a few times:

“Funding for Masterpiece is provided by the Masterpiece Trust, created to ensure the series future, with support from Donald and Darlene Shiley and the following…”

“The following” change episode to episode, but the Shileys remain at the top of the list.  You’ll even see their names as supporters of Masterpiece Mystery.

Which got me thinking — who are Donald and Darlene Shiley? Should I know their names already?  And can I personally thank them for ‘ensuring the future’ and very existence of Downton Abbey?

Sadly, Donald died in August of last year, but not before he made tremendous contributions as a doctor and philanthropist.  Shiley collaborated with Swedish cardiologist Dr. Viking Bjork to develop the Bjork-Shiley heart valve, which is credited with saving hundreds of thousands of lives.

He also contributed millions to research centers in San Diego which bear his name. The Shiley Eye Center at UC San Diego. The Shiley Center for Science and Technology at the University of San Diego. The Donald P. Shiley Cardiovascular Research Center at San Diego State University.

He and his wife Darlene have given millions to Alzheimers research, the Scripps Clinic, The Old Globe Theater and KPBS.  (She worked as a TV public service director and promotions manager before their marriage.)

So now, each time I sit down to enjoy another addictive episode of Downton Abbey, I’ll smile knowing an even greater love story made the whole darn thing possible.

Speakin’ my language

Estoy aprendiendo español.

I’m learning Spanish.

It’s one of those online programs you take at your own pace.  I was inspired — or is the right word shamed — by colleagues from other countries who can speak two or more languages fluently.

And here I stumble about, barely doing English justice.

So now at night, while I’m plopped down in front of the TV watching Dancing with the Stars, I’m conjugating Spanish verbs.  It’s a lot of fun (or, I should say, ‘muy divertido’).

Studies reveal it’s good for me, too.

In Europe, my perception of intelligence increases twofold if I, an American, speak a second language.  Much more importantly, my long-term brain health is given a tremendous boost, too.

Specifically, a study at York University in Toronto found that patients diagnosed with Alzheimers who spoke a second language exhibited symptoms as much as five years later than their monolingual counterparts.

Wow.  That’s the most effective advertisement for the Rosetta Stone I’ve ever heard.

So, if you know a second language, practice it.  And if you don’t, consider learning one.  It’s good for your brain.

Estudio, mis amigos!

No, no and no

If it were possible, would you want photos of every moment of your life?

(I feel I should exclude soccer moms from this question, because they seem to take an awful lot of photos.)  But for the rest of you — would you…really?

Well, this reality is just around the corner.  UK-based firm Vicon has licensed technology for one such camera that you wear around your neck.  It can be programmed to take photos as often as every 30 seconds in response to changes in your body temperature or the environment.

The original intent of the camera was to help Alzheimer patients look back on the events of their day, but now we can use it to bore our friends and family on Facebook with the day-to-day minutiae of our lives.

Imagine!  Whereas before we could only share photos of those events where we remembered to whip out the ol’ digital camera, now the Vicon neck camera will be clicking along all day, every day.  We can share even our most forgettable moments.

I know I’m looking forward to that.

And I’m guessing Facebook is going to have to start charging for photo upload — can you imagine the file space that will be required after the Vicon camera is made available in 2010?

We really need that ‘unlike’ button.