An Indiana woman will play a role in steering the national Alzheimer’s Association when it comes to the disease’s early stages.
Mary Kay Tarbell was recently named as an Early-Stage Advisor for the Alzheimer’s Association. The position provides an opportunity to advance awareness about the importance of early diagnosis.
Tarbell knew the signs of Alzheimer’s.
“I kind of felt the creeping questions,” she says she started asking. “Why am I forgetting this?”
She had two family members who had lived with the disease and when she started losing words and memories she knew it was different from usual forgetfulness.
“It’s just kind like a slow slide into not being who you were,” she says.
Tarbell says the hardest part of an early diagnosis is the stigma.
“Because you’ve admitted something, you’ve put yourself in a category,” says Tarbell. “You’re now the person with Alzheimer’s.”
The advisor position is a one year term where she will plan with the other ten advisors best ways to spread awareness about early diagnosis.
“I would hope I can give people insight into what it’s like to walk this path to move into less and less comprehension, probably less and less ability to communicate,” Tarbell says.
She is a former biologist and stresses the importance of early diagnosis for future research.
“Get help right away, you could be in a clinical trial, you could be the first survivor so why not,” Tarbell says.
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s. More than 110,000 have the disease.