Vim & Vigor - Fall 2021 - 31

31
Concerns? Don't Delay Seeking Treatment
Carolyn Perrygo comes
from a family where you
don't ignore problems.
" You confront them, " she
says. This mindset proved
vital 11 years ago when she
began to notice subtle signs
of memory loss in her husband,
John, who was in his
60s. They mentioned their
concerns to their primary
care doctor, who referred
them to UVA Memory and
Aging Care Clinic.
Although the clinic is
three hours from their
Hagerstown, Maryland,
home, it's been well worth
the drive. At UVA, they
met research coordinator
Colleen Webber, who has
connected John to five clinical
trials in the past decade.
One trial gave John access
to a brain scan that led to
his early-stage Alzheimer's
diagnosis in 2014. And
because of another trial,
doctors uncovered that John
has atrial fibrillation, which
is a heart rhythm disorder
that can lead to stroke, and
sleep apnea, which can hasten
memory decline.
John's Alzheimer's has
progressed slowly, so the
couple is looking forward
to a Mediterranean cruise
in October.
Carolyn's message
to others facing mental
decline: Don't waste precious
time. " I've talked to
too many families who felt
the prejudice about memory
loss and have refused
care or to seek out treatment
until it's too late, " she
says. " It's difficult enough
without adding to it by covering
it up or ignoring it. "
at least a half-hour each day. If I skip the
gym for some reason, I fi nd that I have less
mental clarity.
Biking is important to us, too. If the
temperature gets above 50 degrees here in
Michigan, we're out there.
I've become a zealot in guarding my sleep.
I need seven straight hours at least.
In terms of diet, I've gone way down on
consuming sugar and red meat to maintain
a healthy weight.
STAYING CONNECTED
I'm also focused on social connections. It's
always been important to have friends I can
talk to, and now we are even more conscious
of staying connected to people.
It's even more of a priority to just enjoy the
company of our longtime friends and our
11 grandkids. It can be diffi cult during the
pandemic, but when necessary we sit outside
about 6 to 8 feet apart and visit that way.
I'm in three support groups. It's a place
where everyone understands you and where
you're coming from. Th ere's no judgment, and
you always feel accepted. Th is year, I joined
the national Early-Stage Advisory Group
through the Alzheimer's Association. We're
a group of eight individuals with early-stage
Alzheimer's (having mild symptoms) and
other dementia using our voices and experiences
living with the disease to help others.
On a practical level, technology helps us fi ll
in the gaps for things that may be diffi cult for
UVA Committed to
Improving Quality of Life
John Perrygo likes to volunteer, so he has raised his hand for
five UVA clinical trials designed to improve Alzheimer's care.
Go to uvahealth.com/alzheimers for details about research
initiatives at the Virginia Alzheimer's Disease Center.
me alone to remember. We use a navigation app
and share a shopping list to make it easier to
keep up with daily tasks. We share a calendar on
our phones so we both have access to important
events or appointments. Our internet-enabled
fobs can be activated to locate keys. Th e fi nder
feature on my phone helps when I'm not able
to remember where I placed it.
PLANNING AHEAD
Since the diagnosis, we've had to change plans.
In 2016, we had sold our house and had gone
on a road trip in preparation to move in with
our daughter in Virginia. But instead of starting
over in a new place, we decided to stay in our
community in Michigan, which feels like home.
I've agreed that should I have trouble driving,
Ellen can take away my license. I signed papers
(resources are available online or through an
attorney), and we are making plans that way.
I already learned to go to the gym by bus.
Th e time will come when my Alzheimer's
progresses to the point that I can't do many
of the things I like to do. Until then, I'm preparing
to be as independent as I can be for as
long as I can be. *
VIM & VIGOR FALL 2021
As a person
living with
Alzheimer's,
I want to do
everything in
my power to
help reduce
my risk.
THIS AND PREVIOUS SPREAD: FAMILY PHOTOS COURTESY OF GARY AND ELLEN GIBSON; ALL OTHERS BY GETTY IMAGES
http://www.uvahealth.com/alzheimers

Vim & Vigor - Fall 2021

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Vim & Vigor - Fall 2021 - Cover1
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2021 - Cover2
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2021 - Contents
Vim & Vigor - Fall 2021 - 2
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