Local News

Former Sportscaster Visits UNC To Help Raise Alzheimer's Awareness

Posted May 2, 2003

— Tim Ryan is a well-known sportscaster who's spent time in the Triangle covering college basketball.

Friday, he came back to the area for a much different reason -- to talk about Alzheimer's Disease.

Nearly 5 million people in the U.S. have the disease, 130,0000 in North Carolina alone.

Ryan's wife, Lee, also had it. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at just 49 years old.

Confusion and feelings of terror quickly took over the life of the active, organized mother and wife.

"People sometimes incorrectly think of Alzheimer's disease as Old-Timer's disease," Ryan said.

Lee and Tim would be celebrating their 42nd wedding anniversary this month. But she died in December.

"We had a long difficult haul with our family," Ryan said. "But she was the person who suffered the most, and we lost her just before this past Christmas."

Ryan, a former CBS sportscaster, is taking his very personal, private experience public. He's on the national Alzheimer's Association Board, and he travels the country raising awareness.

Friday, he went to UNC Hospitals, where doctors will open a specific clinic for memory disorders this summer.

The clinic is scheduled to open in July. It will be unique because it brings together the fields of geriatrics, psychiatry and neurology to help diagnose and treat Alzheimer's.

"One of the most exciting new developments is the possibility -- we're not there yet -- that we may have medications to delay onset or slow progression," said Dr. Frank Longo of the UNC Dept. of Neurology. "If that's the case, early diagnosis becomes much more important than it used to be."

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