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Retired neurologist with Alzheimer's shares importance of early awareness



by Jackie Labrecque, KATU News

Dan Gibbs and his wife, Lois, walk with their dog, Jack. Dan, who was a local neurologist before retiring, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2015. (KATU Photo)

Image bit by bit, your memories slowly start to slip away. It's happening to millions of Americans, as every 65 seconds someone develops Alzheimer's disease in America.

A local neurologist with Alzheimer's is helping to take the lead, urging younger doctors to catch it early. exclaims Dan Gibbs who regularly walks Portland's West Hills with his wife, Lois, and dog, Jack.

Then shoots for 10,000 steps a day.

"During the exercise, I feel a little sharper and there is some data to support that, "Dan says.

He loves data because he's a doctor. He practiced neurology for years in Portland

"It was 2006 when I probably had my first symptom of Alzheimer's disease," Dan says.

He found out he had a high-risk gene, and he noticed some memory issues. such as, "I never could learn the telephone number in my new office – or the address, actually."

Then chose to retire and focus on his own brain. That was two years before his official Alzheimer's diagnosis in 2015. A brain scan confirmed it.

"It was actually reassuring," Dan explains, "because I knew there was something wrong."

"I have a hard time remembering what I want to do. I have to stay on track," Dan explains.

He volunteers at the Alzheimer's Association, regularly giving talks to medical students about his experience and the leaves quite an impression.

"We're lucky to give us this chance to see patients face to face, interact with them, ask them questions. .. see what it's like – live their experience, so that while we're actually knowing what to expect and how to be a great doctor, "says OHSU second-year medical student Doug Rice. a number of people with dementia and frankly, I didn't do very good job with it, "Dan says.

He writes candidly about this and the importance of diagnosing the disease early, in an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Neurology. He says before – the research just wasn't there – to provide patients with any hope.

"We did not like making a diagnosis, and I really feel bad about that now," 19659005] But now there are a few more answers about the disease. The 2019 Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures Report states scientists believe Alzheimer's begins in the brain 20 years before symptoms even appear. Jeffrey Kaye, who runs the Layton Aging and Alzheimer's Disease Center at OHSU

The new research shows changes in lifestyle – similar to what is doing – can reduce a person's risk, making it less likely to develop dementia

"When somebody who's a neurologist himself is having this experience, and being able to bring those two things together, is very powerful," says Dr. Kaye of his former colleague

"I really think in another generation it's going to be manageable. … I would like to say another five years, but you know, who knows," Dan says.

He holds onto hope, and a good book – usually two a week.

"I don't always remember what I read, but that's OK, I enjoy it at the time, in the moment," says Dan.

Embracing the now, with those he loves – that's what keeps Dan going.


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