Alzheimer's disease | Texas Public Radio

Alzheimer's disease

This is the third in NPR's series "Inside Alzheimer's," about the experience of living with the illness. In parts one and two, Greg O'Brien talked about what it was like to get the diagnosis of Alzheimer's, and how he thinks about the future.

This is the second in NPR's series "Inside Alzheimer's," about the experience of living with Alzheimer's. In part one, Greg O'Brien talked about learning that he had the disease.

This is the first in a series, Inside Alzheimer's, about the experience of being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

In 2009, 59-year-old Greg O'Brien was a successful journalist and writer living in Cape Cod. He was healthy and happy — he exercised every day, made a good living, spent time with his three children and wife.

In the new movie Still Alice, Julianne Moore plays Alice Howland, a 50-year-old linguistics professor at Columbia with a razor-sharp intellect. She's at the prime of her career, but gradually she starts to forget things. She loses her way, she gets fuzzy — and she is soon diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. The movie charts her rapid decline and her struggle to hold on to her sense of self.

A circumstance that might well qualify as a fate worse than death is to continue living after one side of the human equation — body + mind — has been canceled. For a jaunty account of an active brain in a withering physique, see The Theory of Everything; for a more anguished view of the opposite situation, there's Still Alice.

After years of setbacks, Alzheimer's researchers are sounding optimistic again. The reason: a brain protein called tau.

At this year's Society for Neuroscience meeting in Washington, D.C., there are more than 100 papers on tau, which is responsible for the tangles that form in the brains of people with Alzheimer's. In the past, tau has received less attention than another protein called amyloid beta, which causes the sticky plaques associated with Alzheimer's.

Erich Schlegel

Fronteras: Tino Duran, publisher of San Antonio bilingual newspaper La Prensa, just went public with his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Duran’s daughter Nina joins us on Fronteras to talk about her father and the family’s journey with Alzheimer’s. Imagine traveling the entire Rio Grande, just you, a canoe and some paddles. A couple of journalists are doing just that. We check in on the progress of the Disappearing Rio Grande Expedition.

Expedition Tracking the Disappearing Rio Grande

Tom Michael / KRTS

Fronteras: If you're questioned by law enforcement at a traffic stop, what are you required to answer? As demographics change across the nation and in Texas, there’s growing concern about Alzheimer’s disease among Mexican-Americans—a population that continues to age. More minors from south of the border are making the dangerous journey to the U.S. illegally and alone. We visit Joint Base San Antonio Lackland where many of those minors are being housed.

Chris Eudaily / TPR News

In The First Segment:

Thomas Tunstall is the director of the UTSA Center for Community & Business Research and the lead researcher and economist on a recent study about the economic impact of the Eagle Ford Shale.

The study found that the total economic impact of the boom is $46 billion dollars and 86,000 jobs.

The report also found that the Eagle Ford Shale now ranks as the largest single oil and gas development in the world based on capital expenditures.

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