“Put away your hankies. There’s not going to be any pity party. We’re going to fight, and we’re going to fight publicly.”
In 2011, when Pat Summitt was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she decided to face the disease like she faced everything else in her life, with courage and with others in mind.
Following the announcement of her diagnosis and the outpouring of support from all over the country, Summitt and her son, Tyler, decided to start a foundation to help put an end to the disease. The Pat Summitt Foundation opened in 2011, focusing on awareness, advocacy, and research.
“Tyler and I have decided to join this battle, not just for us, but also for the millions of families affected by this disease,” Summitt said in a letter to friends. “As I have always told our players, our greatest opportunities are disguised as our greatest obstacles. It is time to treat this obstacle as an opportunity—and a stepping stone to a cure.”
For three years, the foundation awarded grants and financial support to nonprofits that conduct research, provide support for patients and caregivers, and promote awareness of Alzheimer’s.
In 2015, The Pat Summitt Foundation and the University of Tennessee Medical Center teamed up to make a big impact in the area of Alzheimer’s care by announcing the establishment of The Pat Summitt Alzheimer’s Clinic.
“We currently serve 3,000 patients and their families at our Alzheimer’s clinic and project the need will double to 6,000 in the next five years,” said UTMC President and CEO Joseph R. Landsman Jr. “The Pat Summitt Foundation partnership will allow us to help so many more families and expand discovery by virtue of new national clinical trials, made possible by the establishment of a clinic dedicated exclusively to the care, family support, and advancement of new treatments of Alzheimer’s disease.”
The clinic, which is set to open in December at the UT Medical Center, will offer a team of neurologists, geriatricians, advanced registered nurse practitioners, a registered nurse, a licensed clinical social worker, and a cognitive evaluation specialist. This team will work closely with other specialists such as physical therapists and speech-language pathologists.
Upon the announcement of the clinic in 2015, Summitt said, “It is our hope that by creating this Alzheimer’s clinic at the University of Tennessee Medical Center everyone will have access to resources that will help them as they walk through this difficult journey.”
10 EARLY WARNING SIGNS OF ALZHEIMER’S
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Challenges in planning or solving problems
- Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work, or at leisure
- Confusion with time or place
- Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
- Decreased or poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social activities
- Changes in mood and personality
If you notice any of these signs in yourself or someone you know, don’t ignore them. Schedule an appointment with your doctor.