Almost a year and a half ago, long-time news man Paul Gates retired from WAFB, announcing to the world he had Alzheimer's disease.
A baseline evaluation done at the Pennington Institute for Dementia Research and Prevention confirmed Paul had what doctors call mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's disease.
"I knew that I was not going to have a big problem with Alzheimer's. I would not allow that," Paul said.
Despite his resolve, researchers say early onset Alzheimer's like Paul's can and often does progress quickly.
Paul's wife, Michele Gates knew what to expect, but refused to think the worst. Her optimism did not go unrewarded.
"Today he was re-evaluated and his numbers have not changed. That is really good news for us…so the disease has not progressed," Michele said.
Paul walks about five miles a day or rides his bike. Research shows exercise and taking medication exactly as prescribed can be major factors in slowing down the progression of Alzheimer's symptoms. Paul credits Michele for keeping him on task.
"One day she just told me we're going to have to get aggressive, we're going to get very very aggressive Paul...we're going to you know really work on this so that was what was done," Paul said.
The decision to get aggressive has paid off for Paul. Not only has his Alzheimer's remained mild to moderate for a year, it makes him a candidate for a new Pennington study.
This one involves Paul adding a new medication to what he's already taking.
Dr. Jeffrey Keller heads up the research.
"There's a lot of evidence that those two drugs may work together in a very beneficial way," Dr. Keller said.
In tests with lab animals, the drugs worked better than anything currently available at slowing down Alzheimer's symptoms and in some cases--even improved them. The Pennington study aims to find out if the same is true for humans.
In the meantime, Paul has not lost his trademark sense of humor.
"I keep telling Michele, I don't have Alzheimer's," Paul said.
A tongue in cheek comment no doubt, but a good indication of just how serious Paul and Michele Gates are in their fight against Alzheimer's disease.
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