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LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 8, 2016) − Nearly 68,000 Kentuckians today are suffering from Alzheimer's disease, but the emotional and financial tolls are much higher. That's because, in the words of Linda Van Eldik, Alzheimer's is a "family disease."
"Alzheimer's affects the patient, of course, but as the disease progresses, it is also devastating for the people who love and care for that patient," said Van Eldik, director of the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.
While a diagnosis of Alzheimer's or other age-related dementias brings an incredible amount of uncertainty to patients and their families, there is a valuable resource at the University of Kentucky providing information, support and hope.
So say Tom Conley and daughters Terri and Susie, whose wife and mother Nancy was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2009.
"The care Nancy got while she was at Sanders-Brown and the clinical trials she participated in, I think slowed the disease down," said Tom.
Nancy passed away from breast cancer in November of 2014. Looking back the Conley daughters feel grateful that their mother's last years were full of good memories.
"I got my mother — my REAL mother — a few more years than I probably would have if she had gone untreated," added Terri.
The Conley family hails from Louisville, but they found care for Nancy in Lexington — at the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.
UK's Sanders-Brown Center on Aging (SBCoA) was established in 1979 and is one of the original 10 National Institutes of Health-funded Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers. SBCoA is internationally acclaimed for its work in the fight against age-related diseases.
Faculty and researchers work together within the framework of the Center's mission to explore the aging process and its implications for society. Research spans bench to bedside, from defining disease mechanisms in the brain and exploring cellular changes that lead to AD, to studies exploring healthy aging and ways to lower risk of dementia, to clinical trials testing potential new therapies that slow or stop the progression of age-related diseases of the brain.
"We are trying to cure Alzheimer’s and we know that here at the Sanders Brown Center on Aging we will be part of that cure," said Dr. Greg Jicha, professor of neurology at the UK College of Medicine and SBCoA. "Whether it comes next year or comes five years from now or 20 years from now, we will be playing a central role in that ultimate goal."
Watch this video to learn how Sanders-Brown helped the Conley family extend Nancy's quality of life and why philanthropy is so integral to ensuring that UK researchers contribute to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease while also helping other Kentucky families.
As Tom Conley puts it, "You have a jewel right here in little old Lexington and we need to keep polishing it."
Media contact: Laura Dawahare, Laura.Dawahare@uky.edu, (859) 257-5307
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