August 29, 2015

Statewide plan for Alzheimer’s disease is subject of town hall meetings

Alzheimer's diseaseThe first of four town hall meetings on a statewide plan for Alzheimer’s disease will be held tonight.

The Unicameral approved legislation (LB 320) this spring that calls for creating a statewide plan. Clay Freeman, program director for the Alzheimer’s Association Nebraska Chapter, explains the motive.

“The goal of this plan is to really find gaps in services for people who are affected by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias,” Freeman says. “We’re really looking at folks who are caregivers for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and persons with the disease.”

Freeman says they’ll discuss a number of key issues at the meeting, for example, the type of training and qualifications required for caregivers.

“Do we need some type of an endangered persons alert, similar to the Amber Alert, for older adults who might wander or get away from their home and get lost,” Freeman says. “One thing about Alzheimer’s disease is six out of ten individuals will wander, so they’re at a great risk.”

Tonight’s town hall meeting is at 5:30 pm at the Kearney Public Library. More meetings are scheduled next month, on September 15th in Omaha, on September 23rd in Pender and September 29th in Alliance.

By Brent Wiethorn, KKPR, Kearney

Study shows long work days increase risk of stroke

A new study shows that working long hours can increase your risk of stroke and heart disease. Dr. Pierre Fayad is the director of the Nebraska Stroke Center at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Department of Neurological Sciences and says this study shed light on how increased stress can impact the risk of stroke.

The study shows that those who work 55 hours a week or more increase the risk of having a stroke by 33% and increase the risk of heart disease by 15%.

Dr. Fayad says working more hours could increase alcohol consumption, increase tobacco use, cause more stress and reduce the amount of needed exercise.  That could be associated with the increased risk of stroke but more research will need to be done.


Autism awareness group plans fall conference, summer camp

Participants in the Operation Shine summer camp

Participants in the Operation Shine summer camp

A central Nebraska organization strives to raise awareness about children with autism and the challenges they face, including bullying. Aaron Bly, of Kenesaw, is the founder and president of the Kids and Dreams Foundation.

“My wife and I have adopted five children and the middle child has autism,” Bly says. “We have done a lot of different things, trying different items with him, a lot of stuff that people aren’t aware of. We felt that families experiencing autism could really benefit from more resources and options and that’s why the foundation was started.”

Another organization that’s based in Hastings is called Mustaches for Kids, which recruits men to grow mustaches over a month’s time and to raise money for a children’s charity during that month.

“The Kids and Dreams Foundation is the charity they selected to support during August, so this month, we have over 50 growers of mustaches who are not only growing the mustache but going out and trying to get support, donations from their families and friends,” Bly says. “All of those proceeds will go to the Kids and Dreams Foundation for our autism conference in October and for our Operation Shine Camp that will be next June.”

The autism conference will feature six speakers. It’s scheduled for October 2nd in Kearney, focusing on families, parents and professionals. Learn more at

By Brent Wiethorn, KKPR, Kearney


Kids with “learning trouble” may actually have vision problem

Dr. Triebel works with a vision therapy patient

Dr. Triebel works with a vision therapy patient

As tens of thousands of Nebraska children head back to school, a study finds one in four of them has a vision problem.

Optometrist Dr. Beth Triebel says kids may not be up-front about having a problem with their sight so parents need to be watchful for warning signs.

“A lot of times you’ll notice the kids squinting to see things,” Dr. Triebel says. “If they’re reading, they may turn their head funny, close an eye or rub their eyes a lot after reading. They may get very close to the reading material or move it really far away.”

Triebel says simple vision tests can be performed on children as young as infants which can spot potential problems very early.

“There’s a free program called InfantSEE that you can get your child in to get that very basic, preliminary exam to look for any red flags that could be a problem later,” Triebel says. “After that, I typically recommend an exam before kindergarten, between ages 3 and 5, and then after that, every couple of years is a good idea.”

Since 80% of all learning is visual, she says good vision is important in the classroom. A study finds 60% of students who are identified as “problem learners” have undetected vision problems.

“There could be some underlying vision problems that could either be the cause of it or certainly add to that type of behavior,” Triebel says. “It’s very important that if your child is having trouble in school or having trouble learning, that you get a comprehensive eye exam and make sure everything is working right.”

Triebel offers a few suggestions for things parents can do to protect their child’s vision, including:

  • provide a well-lit, comfortable area for reading and homework
  • a child watching TV should sit 6 to 8 feet away from the television set
  • children should take frequent breaks to rest their eyes while reading, working on a computer or playing video games
  • wear appropriate eye protection in activities where there is a risk of eye injury
  • time away from school should allow for creative play time to help his or her vision develop properly


Unwelcome guests – Bats are on the move

Bats are on the move and appear to be plentiful. That can be a serious problem to humans because they carry rabies. Nebraska Humane Society’s Vice President of Field Operations Mark Langan says they’ve received hundreds of calls in the last few weeks of bats found inside homes.

Langan says it happens every year around mid-August when the weather turns cooler at night. The biggest fear is that a person will be bitten while asleep and not realize they are infected because bites may not leave an obvious mark. A possible exposure includes if a person has been bitten, had contact with a bat’s saliva or if you wake up and there is a bat in the bedroom. This is especially important if is in the room of a child, a mentally challenged or intoxicated person. That is when to call an animal control officer to have the bat removed from the home and it will be tested for rabies.

Langan says one of the best ways to keep bats out of your home is to do do a little maintenance. Examine your home for holes. A bat can get through an opening the size of a dime. Close those openings and cracks with caulk, screens or stainless steel wool. It is also a good idea to install a chimney cap. Make sure all entry points are covered and that doors and windows close tightly.