ST. LOUIS - The effects of Alzheimer’s disease can be devastating to older people and their families. Now, St. Louis University researchers are using specialized therapy to study and help stave off the disease. And for one family, it's making a big difference.
Through nearly 60 years of marriage, Judy and Richard Sandler have shared lots of memories and lots of laughs. Now, they're sharing a fight against Alzheimer’s. The disease causes confusion, mood swings, poor judgment and can make it feel like your memories are being erased.
Richard was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s last year.
"His biggest problem so far is finding the right word or just verbal expression,” said Judy.
“I am working at improving words,” added Richard.
To help keep his mind sharp, Richard attends Cognitive Stimulation Therapy, or CST, at the St. Louis University Memory Clinic. It’s a seven-week-long program where patients meet twice a week for an hour.
“The goal is improving memory and cognitive function over time,” said program director Max Zubatsky. He’s has been studying Alzheimer’s for seven years.
“Training the brain and getting the brain active is really important. It not only helps people stay sharper mentally, but also improves their mood,” said Zubatsky. “We have segments where people can refresh on using money, learn about word associations and reminisce about things like childhood memories and family trips.”
Zubatsky says SLU is the only university in the country actively training and studying CST. And he believes it's helping patients like Richard Sandler.
“Not only in his mood, but in his ability to recall things,” said Zubatsky.
While the disease is hard on patients, it's stressful on caregivers, too. That's why people like Judy Sandler are offered the support they need.
“I'm very happy for the extra help we're getting through this study,” said Sandler.
The work is giving her hope that she and her husband will share may more years of memories and laughs.
“I don't think anyone could really deal with this disease if they didn't have hope.”
The Memory Clinic at SLU is accepting new patients. Click here to learn more and to sign up for services.