One day before the Senate passed the National Alzheimer’s Project Act earlier this month, I was on Capitol Hill with a clutch of health-care journalists who had traveled to Washington specifically to attend our program on issues around the memory-stealing disease. We met with knowledgeable staffers who had worked on the House version of the bill, and we were pleased to have a few minutes for Q&A with co-sponsor Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA). He is one of the swelling number of Americans who have lost – or are losing – a family member to Alzheimer’s Disease. His mother’s struggle, he said, inspired him to push for the current legislation. The House passed the bill (N.A.P.A) on Wednesday, and President Obama is expected to sign it.
Among the journalists in our group were several who had watched a parent or grandparent slowly disappear with Alzheimer’s. As our society ages, that tragedy is becoming ever more common, with all of its attendant medical, social and economic consequences. It is estimated that one of every two people who reach the age of 85 will develop Alzheimer’s Disease.
This is why the National Press Foundation designed a four-day educational program for journalists on Alzheimer’s Issues. We think it’s the first substantive educational program for reporters and editors ever offered. And it’s why we’re very happy to be presenting it again, in May 2011. Not to tell people that a crisis is building around Alzheimer’s Disease. That’s been reported in many places. But without a treatment or cure, millions around the globe will be dealing with questions about tests, about participation in clinical trials, about finding quality care, and respite care, and dealing with stress, and loss, and wondering how to pay for it all. These are complex issues, and they create important, interesting stories worth telling.
The agenda for our program this month included expert-led sessions on prevention, diagnosis, treatment, progress toward a cure, care-giving, legal issues, a look at which groups are at greatest risk, ethical issues, costs and more, in addition to our Capitol Hill soiree. Journalists who attended had great suggestions for improvement, and some kind words for us. Their written evaluations called it “fantastic,” said it “filled a void in health reporting,” and enthused that “The level of expertise and discussion was very high in every single session.” So far, 11 of 13 respondents have rated it “Excellent,” and two rated it “Good.”
I’d like our next program on Alzheimer’s Issues to be even more timely and relevant for journalists. Have an idea? Put it in a comment at the bottom of this page, or shoot me an email.
If you’re interested in attending the program, watch our website for the application announcement, or sign up on the home page to get our email newsletter.
Earlier Blog Posts
Reporter Mark Albert of KSTP-TV, St. Paul/Minneapolis…
December 15, 2010
NPR.org Wins Excellence in Online Journalism Award;…
December 14, 2010
Albert Hunt of Bloomberg News to Receive Coveted NPF…
December 14, 2010
Peter Whoriskey of Washington Post Wins First “Feddie”…
December 13, 2010
Dana Bash of CNN; Brody Mullins & T.W. Farnam Win…
December 8, 2010