GAP-Net site Kerwin Medical Center’s Citizen Scientist, Dominic Morello, a caregiver for his father with Alzheimer’s, wrote an Op-Ed on how this generations Alzheimer’s patients can make the disease a thing of the past.
There are more than 100 potential Alzheimer’s treatments in the pipeline, but the majority of clinical trials for potential Alzheimer’s therapies are delayed due to enrollment shortages. Dominic Morello, a Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation 2020 Citizen Scientist award nominee, shares his and his father’s story — along with a call to action and information about to find Alzheimer’s drug trials near you.
I was 23 years old when I became the primary caregiver for my dad, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at age 54. My dad had always put family first when he was raising my two brothers and me, so when the time came, I wanted to do the same for him.
My dad was never the kind of guy to go on fishing or golfing trips – on the weekends, he was at our football and baseball games, coaching and cheering on his sons. He was the smartest person I knew, and he helped me and my brothers become the men that we are today.
My dad’s symptoms have progressed quickly in the three short years since his diagnosis. When he started to forget things that he had never forgotten before, he had to leave his job as a civil engineer. Then, as more time went on, he wasn’t able to drive. Nowadays, he cannot even cook a simple meal for himself.
Some days feel close to normal, and other days, I have to give him cues on how to do basic tasks, such as brushing his teeth. Every day since his diagnosis, I have wondered why this disease happens to people and what are its root causes.
My brothers and I grew up around Alzheimer’s. My dad’s mom and her mom had it too – I remember my grandmother slowly forgetting my name when I was a young boy. Because of this genetic history, my brothers and I are at a great risk for developing Alzheimer’s. More than 5.8 million Americans, including 400,000 Texans like my dad, are living with the disease – yet there is no cure.
This is what led us to join a clinical trial at Kerwin Research Center in Dallas. Clinical trials are the only way to find treatments and a cure for Alzheimer’s, but as much as 90 percent are delayed by slow recruitment. Every study volunteer like my dad needs a research study partner to help monitor their symptoms, so once a month, he and I make the six-hour round-trip drive from Round Rock to Dallas to help advance Alzheimer’s research.
My dad wanted to join a clinical trial as soon as he was diagnosed. He wanted to help other people who will go through this experience, like he has, and his mother and grandmother did before him. Alzheimer’s clinical trials need all kinds of volunteers that are 55 and older – people like my dad who are living with the disease, people like me who have a family history, and even people who have no history at all.
I am hopeful that a cure for this disease will be discovered by 2025, long before my brothers and I have to worry about it. We do not want to have to live in fear of this horrid disease being continually passed down to future generations any longer.
As a caregiver and a clinical trial volunteer, I want to do my part to raise awareness around this vital cause. Alzheimer’s is an unfair, terrible disease that turns millions of lives upside down every year – I feel very fortunate that my dad raised me to be a person who could become the head of the household when I was needed most.
I am proud that my father is helping scientists in the U.S. and across the globe study this disease, and I want to continue to take care of him the way he deserves as long as I can. To end this disease, we need more volunteers to join Alzheimer’s clinical trials, including healthy people and people with memory problems.
Someday, I hope my brothers and I, and our entire generation, will think of Alzheimer’s as a thing of the past.
To find an Alzheimer’s research center working on clinical trials near you, learn more at globalalzplatform.org, or search for an Alzheimer’s clinical trial you may qualify for at the National Institute on Aging’s Clinical Trials Finder.
Dominic Morello is an Electrical Distribution Outside Account Manager in Round Rock, Texas. Last year, Dominic was nominated by Kerwin Research Center for the Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation®’s 2020 Citizen Scientist ‘Collaborator’ Award®.
Originally posted by Being Patient on February 16, 2021.