To watch Senator Capito’s full interview, click here or the image above.

 MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), and Dr. Ali Rezai, Director of the Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute (RNI) today joined Hoppy Kercheval, host of MetroNews Talkline, for a special interview on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. During the interview, Senator Capito shared her personal experience as a caretaker for her parents who struggled with Alzheimer’s disease, as well as her continued efforts to assist families in West Virginia going through similar circumstances.


PERSONAL EXPERIANCE: “Right, really difficult situation. I think my mother – I remember her looking at me, probably 15 years before she passed away, saying ‘Shelley, I'm losing my mind.’ And her mother went through almost the exact same pattern and she knew what was happening to her. She closed in, she lost her confidence, she became afraid to do certain things and be around certain people and I don't think I really understood it, but she had my dad kind of right there with her helping her and it let you know he's wearing out at the same time.”

LEGISLATIVE EFFORTS: “We've tried to work on some legislation, not just funding, and I'd love to hear the doctor's advice on early detection. We've tried to introduce early detection of Alzheimer's in the ‘Know Your Medicare,’ you know, your first exam that you get when you get onto Medicare. The other thing is caregiving. We're trying to help with more avenues, because the caregivers get worn out…and then the research, which is what they do so well.”

CONTINUING INNOVATIVE RESEACH AT WVU: “Working with Dr. Rezai here, we had the NIH Institute of Aging in early, we're going to have them back. We've had also the head of addiction from NIH to come in because I think the research that's going on here at WVU – and the innovative work that Dr. Rezai is doing with his team…I want to try to like shine a national spotlight on that but also to encourage the work and I mean, you can do this through federal funding but also through formulating the programs that fit.”

HELPING FAMILIES IN WEST VIRGINIA: “Well, I want to see other families be able to pick up that book and find out what to do, or to avoid it entirely. We've now seen a lot of trials of different medications. Dr. Rezai is doing a really innovative surgery…it's an ultrasound that has great promise. There's so much going on here. I just want to try to do what I can but you know, I love my parents very much, in sickness and in health, and I hesitated in the beginning to talk about it because it was difficult, but a lot of people were going through the same things and worse.”


IMPORTANCE OF EARLY DETECTION AND RESEARCH: “Basically, it's typically the brain is getting worse for 15 to 20 years before the first external manifestation of dementia or Alzheimer's. The first time your loved one has difficulty paying the bill at a restaurant or is being repetitive or can't find a way around – all of these manifestations are occurring after 15 to 20 years of brain degeneration. So it's important that we can do research, so we can detect this earlier on but typically Alzheimer's affects your thinking your memory, your anxiety, behavior, finding your way around – that’s so many elements of your life.”

ON PROGRAMS FOR CAREGIVERS: “I think that one key thing that people need to understand is the stress, the impact this has on the caregiver, the spouse, the family and that's really important because the caregiver now has got the burden of taking care of everything in their daily lives, plus taking care of the loved one and dealing with emotional aspects and seeing the loved one who was probably very strong person in their lives, and they looked up to them, is deteriorating and sort of the light faded in them. It's very tough to see them. So I think the stress and anxiety for the caregiver is very significant and we cannot ignore that.”

WEST VIRGINIA IS LEADING THE WAY: “Yes, we need to do more studies and here in West Virginia, we're among the world's leaders looking at how we can detect Alzheimer's earlier on using technologies of imaging and other techniques that we can help detect it earlier. And like cancer these days, you can detect cancer earlier…we can detect heart disease, but that has not been translated for Alzheimer's. So that needs to be accelerated by research and innovation and public private partnerships.”

RECOGNIZING SENATOR CAPITO’S EFFORTS: I really want to commend you, Hoppy, for having this dedicated hour because raising the awareness is extremely important for people to know there's opportunities and resources available. And Senator Capito, I want to commend you for your efforts to legislate to help people, that's very important. So West Virginia is really a unique state for Alzheimer's, whether it has to do with legislator awareness and also what we have here for research and innovation are world leaders.”

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