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The retired neurologist with Alzheimer's is aware of early awareness

by Jackie Labrecque, KATU News

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

Imagine your memories are slowly starting to break. It happens to millions of Americans, with Alzheimer's disease occurring in America every 65 seconds.

A local neurologist with Alzheimer's helps to take the lead and urges younger doctors to recognize it early.

"I was not a junkie, but now I am!" exclaims Dan Gibbs, who regularly walks with his wife Lois and his dog Jack in Portland's West Hills.

Dan shoots 10,000 steps a day.

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

He loves data because he is a doctor. For years he practiced neurology in Portland.

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

He found out that he had a high-risk gene and noticed some memory problems. For example, "I never knew the phone number in my new office – or the address."

Dan decided to retire and concentrate on his own brain. That was two years before his official Alzheimer's diagnosis in 2015. A brain exam confirmed it.

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

Beyond physical activity, Dan also practices his thoughts by reading books and researching and keeping lists and a strict calendar.

"It's hard to remember what I want to do and I have to stay on track," Dan says.

He Volunteers At the Alzheimer's Association, he regularly holds talks with medical students about his experiences and leaves an impressive impression.

"We are fortunate that the OHSU offers us the opportunity to see, interact, and ask questions to patients face to face … see how it is – live their experience so that We know what to expect while we're actually here, and how we can become a great doctor, "says Doug Rice, a second-year medical student at the OHSU.

"I saw a number of people with dementia and frankly, I did not do a very good job with it," says Dan.

He writes openly about how important it is to diagnose the disease early, in an article he published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Neurology & # 39; published. He says before – the research just was not there – to give patients hope.

"We somehow made this dance by not diagnosing it, and now I feel really bad," says Dan. 19659005] But now there are some answers about the disease. The Facts and Figures Report on Alzheimer's Disease 2019 states that scientists believe that Alzheimer's begins 20 years before the onset of symptoms in the brain.

"It's always sobering," says Dr. Jeffrey Kaye, who directs the Layton Aging and Alzheimer's Disease Center at the OHSU.

The new research shows that lifestyle changes – similar to what Dan does – can reduce a person's risk, which makes dementia "less likely".

"Having someone who is a neurologist on their own is having that experience and bringing these two things together is very powerful," says Dr. Kaye from his former colleague.

"I really think it will be manageable in another generation … … I want to say another five years, but you know who knows," says Dan.

He holds on to hope and a good book – usually two a week.

"I can not always remember what I'm reading, but that's OK, I enjoy it right now," says Dan.

Hugging Now, with the ones he loves – that's what keeps Dan going.

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