LA VALLEUR COMMUNICATES: Musings By Barbara La Valleur — ‘The Alzheimer’s Epidemic: Every Minute Counts’

As sustaining members of tpt public television, my husband and I are sometimes invited to their St. Paul studio to take part in special events. In preparation for tonight’s nationwide roll-out of “Every Minute Counts,” a program about the national Alzheimer’s epidemic, we were among about 100 select guests attending a screening Tuesday evening of program highlights and a panel discussion plus audience Q & A.

Giving Voice Chorus.
Giving Voice Chorus.

Following a reception with drinks and tasty bites catered by Lund’s & Byerly’s, the group moved up three flights to the recording studios, where the program began with a wonderful performance by Giving Voice Chorus, a metro area working and learning chorus for people living with Alzheimer’s and their care partners.

What a delight! The friendly group sang with gusto and joy waving to those present throughout their performance. They were enthusiastically joined in song by members of the audience whose average age I would imagine was over 50.

Jim Pagliarini, tpt’s president and CEO.
Jim Pagliarini, tpt’s president and CEO.

Introducing the evening was Jim Pagliarini tpt’s president and CEO who welcomed us and introduced sponsors and other VIP’s including Gerry Richman, executive producer and vice president of National Productions at Twin Cities PBS (the official name for tpt). “Every Minute Counts” was produced by the same team that created “The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer’s” for tpt including Elizabeth Arledge, producer and director.

In 2004, that Emmy-winning program was hailed as an urgent wakeup call about the national and global threat posed by Alzheimer’s, which is the No. 1 public health crisis facing American and the developed world today.

Viewing “Every Minute Counts” was a real eye opener. I’m writing this blog with the intention that everyone who reads it will tell others and spread the word to tune in tonight and watch or record it for later viewing.

Chances are you or your family already know someone with Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia. We sure do. The statistics are staggering.

In Minnesota alone, 91,000 people over age 65 live with Alzheimer’s, and the numbers are growing. That’s one in nine. Of those 91,000 who are over age 85, it’s three in nine or one-third. It’s not surprising given we’re living longer.

For those with the disease, there are 249,000 people looking after them. That’s almost three caregivers for each person with Alzheimer’s.

Interestingly, nearly 60 percent of Alzheimer’s live in their own homes.
We watched only half of what will be aired tonight, and then Richman introduced Don Shelby, retired Emmy-winning news anchor with WCCO who in turn asked the four experts on Alzheimer’s panelists to introduce themselves.

They were Dr. Ronald C. Peterson, M.D., Ph.D., director, Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and a world renowned expert on the subject; Olivia Mastry, JD, MPH, Dementia Friendly America; Debbie Richman, vice president of Education and Outreach for the Alzheimer’s Association Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter; and Dawn Simonson, ACT on Alzheimer’s and executive director of the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging.

During my years before retiring as executive director of the now defunct Payne-Phalen Living at Home/Block Nurse Program, I attended numerous events with Dr. Peterson and Simonson on aging and dementia, so it was fun to see them again.

In the Q & A after the panel discussion, the last question discussed was one I posed, asking if there are racial differences for who is likely to get the disease. And yes, proportionately, older African-Americans and Hispanics are more likely than older whites to have Alzheimer’s or other dementias.

In addition to the experience always being interesting and fun, one of the benefits of attending these tpt special events is the opportunity to meet extraordinary people.

Me and Brant Kingman.
Me and Brant Kingman.

One such person I encountered was Brant Kingman who was featured Jan. 3 in a Star Tribune article, “The latest in memory care? Minnesota creatives use art to connect with dementia patients,” by reporter Jenna Ross.

The article was about Kingman and how he uses art to communicate with his mother, Polly Penney, 87, who was diagnosed with dementia three years ago. In the article, Kingman was quoted as saying that because of “absolute out-of-my-mind frustration,” the Minneapolis artist decided trying to draw together.  It’s worth a read so here’s the link:


There are many organizations to support those impacted by Alzheimer’s. For example, Act on Alzheimer’s has a website to which addresses the question “Is Your Community Prepared?” Their toolkit has a four-phase process for bringing people together to help communities.

Dementia Friends USA is a global movement developed by the Alzheimer’s Society in the United Kingdom that, according to their literature, “is changing the way people think, act and talk about dementia.”

I’m including dates, websites and contact information for those wanting more information on this critical subject that is bound to impact you or someone you know and love sooner or later.

The Alzheimer’s Association also has round-the-clock information and support. Their 24/7 helping: (800) 272-3900.

Save the Date: Meeting of the Minds Dementia Conference 2017, Saturday, March 18, 2017, RiverCentre, St. Paul.

Senior LinkAge Line:  (800) 333-2422

Here are websites that will provide additional information:

For more about “Alzheimer’s: Every Minute Counts” see: TPT.org/everyminutecounts

And please remember to tune in at 9 tonight for tpt’s “Every Minute Counts.” Check local listings around the country for the time where you live.

Sponsors of "Alzheimer's: Every Minute Counts."
Sponsors of “Alzheimer’s: Every Minute Counts.”

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