14 News Update on Alzheimer's Patient - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

14 News Update on Alzheimer's Patient

Reporter: Shannon Samson
New Media Producer: Rachel Chambliss

If you don't know someone with Alzheimer's, you probably will at some point. One in ten people over age 65 has it. It's estimated 16 million Americans will be diagnosed by the year 2050.

And it is truly a horrible way to spend your retirement years.

14 News has followed Joanna Seibert for the past five years, and at 66, she is quickly fading away.

A relative built a wheelchair ramp at Bob and Joann Seibert's new one-story home. They had to move out of their multi-level one because Joann couldn't handle the steps anymore.

Five years into her battle with Alzheimer's Disease, there's a lot she can't do for herself from eating to bathing; she hardly even talks.

Bob says, "She knows we're talking about her right now; look at her eyes. If you see her eyes, they're not fully quite awake."

Five years ago, Joann was able to find the words to explain what it's like to slowly lose your mind.

"It's frustrating, demeaning," she says.

Three years after that, the disease was becoming even more pronounced. Joann had a shunt put in her head as part of a clinical trial aimed at slowing down its progression. Today, the shunt has been removed. The experiment: a failure.

"Overall, the effects, it really didn't help any," says Bob.

Even standard drug therapies are doing little to help Joann.

Bob serves as her primary caregiver, making sure she wears nice clothes every day and gets her hair done. Despite his efforts, there may come a day she won't let him near her.

Bob states, "How soon? I don't know. It might be within a year."

Throughout her life, Joann watched Alzheimer's destroy both her mother and grandmother. Now, Joann's children and grandchildren are doing the same.

"They want to know what they can be checked for, to see what can come along, what's down the road. They most likely think one of them is going to get it, too. It's a possibility," informs Bob.

But the possibility also exists that there may be a cure before history repeats itself.

On Sunday, you're invited to take part in the Memory Walk, the largest fundraising event for local programs and services for caregivers and patients of Alzheimer's. Registration and entertainment start at 12:30 p.m. with the walk following at 2 p.m. on USI's campus.

You can even register your dog to walk! So there is something for everyone, and it's a very worthwhile cause.

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