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Re-establishing Hope in Fight Against Alzheimer's

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Wednesday, October 27, 2021   

SHAKOPEE, Minn. - Research is evolving to examine links between COVID-19 and Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia. Alongside that work is a message for Minnesotans and their caregivers: Don't give up hope while navigating the pandemic.

This Friday, Mayo Clinic, AARP and the Alzheimer's Association will host a virtual conference to recognize families for what they've endured as a loved one battles dementia during the crisis.

Angela Lunde, a co-investigator at Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, said many of these individuals already were accustomed to social isolation, even before the pandemic.

"How do we come out of that darkness," she said, "and really celebrate the fact that we now perhaps have a greater sense of empathy for what experience of living with dementia can and always has been?"

Organizers have said that's why the message of hope is a perfect theme for the conference. In addition to stories, the online event includes tips to improve the well-being of people living with dementia. It will begin at 9:15 a.m. Friday CDT nd run through mid-afternoon.

A recent study from England found Alzheimer's and COVID-19 share a genetic risk factor.

Anne Wagner of Shakopee has been helping care for her husband, Steve, who recently was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. She said it's important for caregivers to remain a stabilizing force for everyone involved, "trying to provide the best environment for both them and the care-partner to live their best life."

Steve Wagner said even when there are setbacks in research to find a cure, it isn't a reason to lose hope. He said confirming his diagnosis has allowed him to focus on managing the disease.

"In some ways, it was a relief from before," he said. "We just didn't know what was going on."

Mayo experts have said there's promising news on the research front, noting that technology soon could make it easier for doctors to detect warning signs, even before symptoms begin to surface.

Disclosure: AARP Minnesota contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Consumer Issues, Health Issues, Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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