KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Dennis and Stephene Moore have a long and successful history in Johnson County politics and services organizations.
They now plan to add one more service to that extensive list.
A little more than a year after retiring from Congress, Dennis has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.
He knows the disease well.
“I saw it in my dad,” Dennis remembers. “It progressed steadily over the years and got worse and worse.”
Stephene said over time she noticed Dennis was having problems with short-term memory. For example, “he would forget the names of some people. He likes to play his guitar, as everyone knows, he would forget a verse that I knew he knew.”
She said the symptoms were pretty mild. “There were little things…in restrospect, you wonder.”
The couple decided to begin the testing process in early 2011. Since Alzheimer’s has no diagnostic test, diagnosis is a process of elimination.
According to Dennis’ doctor, Marilyn Rymer of St. Luke's Neuroscience Institute, his diagnosis was confirmed in June of 2011.
“Like any diagnosis it’s very individual,” Dr. Rymer said. “His needs will be very different from the next patient.”
Dennis told 41 Action News that Alzheimer’s was not the reason he chose to retire from Congress. “The last year in Congress (2009) just got horribly divided. I just decided I didn’t want to run again.”
Stephene said his condition did not affect his work in Congress. “I am very proud of what he did and I do not think it at all had anything to do with the judgment he had while he was in Congress.”
The disease is in the early stages. Dennis speaks at length about foreign policy, veterans’ legislation and potential cuts to congressional funding for disease research.
Early detection and why it matters | www.alz.org
It’s the little things that he doesn’t always remember.
“It’s not something you notice all the time. At least I don’t,” Dennis said. “But sometimes I’ll forget somebody’s name, a name I should remember. My wife kids me about not knowing where I’m going when I am driving and she helps me out.”
Dr. Rymer says Alzheimer’s can present symptoms in several forms. “In some people their speech gets affected early so communication is a problem,” she said. “I am very grateful Dennis as good a communicator that he has always been. He can utilize that for the good of others."
That is exactly what Dennis and Stephene plan to do.
“I want to help promote understanding and awareness of this terrible disease, what it is help combat Alzheimer's.” Dennis said.
Stephene is on board as well.
“I am thrilled he is wanting to do this. It’s just a natural fit for him. He has worked for so many causes to help the underdog for so many years,” she said.
His doctor couldn’t be happier, too.
“We had a lot of information gathering over the last 10 to 15 years understanding what is going on that is not translated to prevention or restoring function. I want to make people better,” Dr. Rymer said.
The Moores said they will be out and visible in the community, helping just as much as they can.
“We don’t know what is going to happen,” Stephene said. “But know we are going to take each day and just move forward.”
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After 41 Action News published this story, the Moores sent the following statement:
"I have always tried to be open and candid throughout my career in public service, both as Johnson County District Attorney and as a member of Congress representing Kansas’ Third District. This remains true today, even though I am no longer a public servant. That is why I have some news to share today and by doing so, Stephene and I hope we can help others in the same situation.
I am in the early phases of Alzheimer's disease. After an initial consultation in February, 2011, I had diagnostic testing and further neurological evaluations both here in Kansas City and in St. Louis. I received the final diagnosis in June, 2011. It is not an easy thing to hear. But this is the hand I have been dealt, and Stephene and I are committed to using the opportunity we have to help make sure this insidious disease gets more public attention.
The good news is that I feel fine and I’m truly enjoying being with my family and friends on a more regular basis since I retired from Congress. I know there will be good days and some not so good days over the long term. I wanted to make this announcement now to help draw some attention to Alzheimer’s and to early onset dementia.
In a short period of time, we have met some amazing doctors and other professionals who are working day and night to research this disease and make all of us more aware of it. Whatever we can do to help in the weeks, months and years ahead, we will.
I am blessed to have such great support around me, beginning with my wife Stephene and our children and grandchildren. Stephene and I are equally blessed to have friends and acquaintances