Dementia: Plight of the Alaska caregivers

Healthy brain next to a brain with severe Alzheimer's Disease.
A healthy brain next to a brain marked by severe Alzheimer’s Disease. Image courtesy of National Institutes of Health.

According to Alzheimer’s Resource of Alaska, more than 8,000 Alaskans are living with Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia. Alaska also has the fastest growing older population; demand for services is dramatic.

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Often, support for an Alzheimer patients falls to family and loved ones. Alaska filmmaker Mary Katzke, with grants from the Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and Mat-Su Health Foundation,  focuses in on the lives of five Alaska families as they face this challenge in a new documentary called “Backing Out of Time.”

Alzheimer’s disease is a poorly understood neurodegenerative disorder. It’s process appears to be associated with plaques and tangles, small deposits of protein and molecules that disrupt the brain’s ability to make normal connections.

Katzke writes that in 2013 alone, 33,000 Alaska caregivers provided 37 million hours of unpaid care valued at $466 million. Add onto this the cost of healthcare for the caregivers themselves, which in 2012 was $26 million higher than for Alaskans who are not caregivers, and the dimensions of the problem grow.

On the next Hometown Alaska, we welcome Katzke into the studio to talk about creating this film, along with several experts on aging issues to put Alzheimer’s and caregiving into perspective.

We welcome your questions and comments.

HOST: Kathleen McCoy


  • Mary Katzke, filmmaker
  • Ken Helander, advocacy at AARP Alaska
  • Marie Lavigne, Aging and Disability Resource Center program manager



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LIVE BROADCAST: Wednesday, November 19, 2014. 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. (Alaska time)

REPEAT BROADCAST: Wednesday, November 19, 2014. 9:00 – 10:00 p.m. (Alaska time)

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