Dr. Paige Geiger, Professor in the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology at the University of Kansas, shares her experience as the daughter of a parent diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease:
We first came to understand that my Mom had Alzheimer’s Disease through our visits to the Memory Care Clinic. From that first visit, the KU ADRC ushered us forward and through the landscape of living with Alzheimer’s Disease. We were given resources and exposure to a community we could learn from and lean on. Importantly, we had access to true experts in Alzheimer’s care and research as we faced each new challenge. I’m amazed at how the KU ADRC provides just as much time and attention for the caregiver as the patient.
My research focus for most of my career has been on the cellular mechanisms that lead to Type 2 Diabetes and obesity. When my Mom first showed signs of dementia, I wanted to do something to help. I wanted to channel the frustration of watching my Mom’s memory fail and to use my 20 years of experience as a scientist in a way that might help her and others like her. And while I was an expert in muscle physiology, I had very little experience in researching and understanding brain health. Others might see my prior training as a limitation, but the leaders of the KU ADRC saw it as a strength. And this is something I tell everyone I know and meet about the KU ADRC – they are doing everything possible to find a cure, no stone is left unturned!
I want people to know that they don’t need to feel afraid or ashamed of talking about Alzheimer’s disease. Every time I speak about my Mom whether in my role as a researcher or as a family member of someone with Alzheimer’s, I’ve been surprised by how willing others are to tell me their story. Alzheimer’s can be incredibly isolating, both for patients and for their loved ones. People tend to shy away and not know what to say. But talking about your experiences with Alzheimer’s can bring comfort and connect you with others. Since my Mom’s diagnosis, our lives aren’t the same, but we’ve found strength in each other and in understanding a new way to love. Loving someone with Alzheimer’s disease can be full of joy.