Keri Allen explained that her father began showing a lack of empathy at age 45 and was wrongly diagnosed for the next seven years with everything from schizophrenia, a mid-life crisis and depression. It was Allen’s husband who finally read an article about frontal temporal dementia, and his doctor agreed that is what her father was suffering.
Mary Estrada, a 62 year old early-onset Alzheimer’s disease patient, explained that the hardest part of the disease is waking up every morning, not knowing exactly what is happening to her.
Estrada’s wife and caregiver, Peggy Mack, echoed Estrada’s comments by stating the hardest part of an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis is that she often loses Estrada during a conversation and has to coax her back.
Natalie Sutton, executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter, also participated on the panel and explained the importance of doctors listening to the patient’s caregivers, as they know the individual best. Additionally, Sutton reminded the audience that the Alzheimer’s Association exists to help and can make referrals for those who need help in diagnosing a loved one’s disease.
The panel was moderated by Mary Austrom, PhD, who is the Associate Dean for Diversity Affairs at Indiana University School of Medicine.