Second Opinion presents Alzheimer’s Disease: A Caregiver’s Journey

Sat, 03/21/2009 - 3:00pm

Pictured: Host Dr. Peter Salgo

Photo Credit: WXXI

A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease can be devastating for a person and their loved ones. Caregiving issues surrounding a person with a cognitive disease are unique, and planning for decline in health is critical for the caregiver. Second Opinion presents Alzheimer’s Disease: A Caregiver’s Journey, airing Saturday, March 21 at 3 p.m. and repeating Sunday, March 22 at 1:30 p.m. on WXXI-TV 21 (cable 11) and WXXI-HD (cable 1011 and DT 21.1).

In Second Opinion's fifth season, the TV series launched an initiative to empower the more than 44 million Americans caring for a family member, friend, or loved one. For years, Second Opinion has improved viewers' health literacy by providing insight into how doctors make decisions. In addition to tackling new cases that illustrate some of today's most prevalent health issues, this season looks at the specific situations of caring for someone with a cognitive disease (Alzheimer's Disease), a chronic disease (kidney disease), and shines a light on the very real danger of caregiver burnout.

Emmy Award-winning veteran host Dr. Peter Salgo returns to incite some of the most open and honest medical conversations found on television today. In each episode of Second Opinion, Dr. Salgo presents an actual medical case to a panel of experts that includes three specialists, a primary care physician, a patient diagnosed with the condition, and an expert in doctor-patient communication. In the caregiver episodes, a family caregiver, as well as national caregiver advocates take the role of the patient. The panelists are not allowed to review the case file before the cameras roll. This keeps the conversation authentic — and analogous to the countless doctor-patient exchanges occurring across America every day.

"The patient is a critical member of his or her healthcare team and needs to be empowered to act as such," says Dr. Salgo. "By putting doctors on the spot as to why they make the decisions they do, we make medical care more transparent and less intimidating. Viewers should be able to come away from each episode a little more informed and prepared to take control of their own healthcare."

The Second Opinion for Caregivers initiative is supported by a grant from the Jacob and Valeria Langeloth Foundation. This is the first time Second Opinion has shifted its focus from the patient to another member of the healthcare team, a person whose well-being is critical to the patient’s medical outcome.

"We face, head on, some of the key, real-life caregiving issues. These are issues that are unrecognized by many Americans, and, surprisingly, by most healthcare professionals," says Dr. Salgo. "The number of family caregivers in this country is growing; getting them the right training and support is vital, and affects the health and well-being of so many Americans."

Second Opinion for Caregivers
includes as panelists several of the most informed and influential local and national experts in caregiving and related areas of healthcare, including: Kathy Kelly, executive director of Family Caregiver Alliance; Gail Hunt, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Caregiving; Suzanne Mintz, president and co-founder of the National Family Caregivers Association;  Beth Witrogen, caregiver of spouse and parents and Pulitzer-nominated author; Carol Levine, director of the United Hospital Fund’s Families and Health Care Project; Peter V. Rabins, M.D., MPH, of John Hopkins and one of the authors of “The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for Persons With Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementing Illnesses, and Memory Loss in Later Life” – the book considered "the bible" for family caregivers; and William Hall, M.D., professor of medicine, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry Department of Medicine and director, The Center for Healthy Aging.

In this fifth season of Second Opinion, Dr. Salgo also leads the discussion on a range of new topics, including hospital acquired infections, vaccines, why men die younger, hormone replacement therapy, hypothyroidism, and the mind-body connection.

Among the experts appearing this season are  Dr. Anne Schuchat (Rear Admiral), director of the National Immunizations Program at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dr. Lawrence C. Wood, Massachusetts General, founder, The Thyroid Foundation; and Thomas Perls, MD, MPH, Boston University, director of the New England Centenarian Study, and Tracy W. Gaudet, M.D., director, Duke Integrative Medicine.

In addition to the weekly broadcast, Second Opinion engages and educates viewers online through a comprehensive Web site at New pages on caregiving feature transcripts of the three related episodes in both English and Spanish, as well as a downloadable resource booklet and links to additional resources.

A series of companion webisodes called Second Opinion “Stat!” let viewers access additional program content on demand through their favorite Web-based video platform such as YouTube or Google Video. An audio podcast is also available exclusively through iTunes.

Second Opinion
is endorsed by both the American Hospital Association and the Association of Academic Health Centers. Dr. Roger Oskvig, an acknowledged leader in Gerontology and associate professor of medicine at University of Rochester Medical Center, is the series’ principal medical advisor.

National underwriting for Second Opinion is provided by BlueCross  BlueShield Association (BCBSA).