Dennis and Stephene Moore turn to each other for strength in Alzheimer's fight

LENEXA, Kan. - Dennis Moore has lived most of his life in the public eye. A diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease is not changing anything.

It's been a year since the former congressman from the 3rd District of Kansas shared the news of his race against a devastating opponent that's difficult to beat -- Alzheimer's disease. But he doesn't seem daunted in the least.

"Nobody wants to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's but you can get through it.  You can live with it," Moore said.

He doesn't notice much difference.

"Occasionally forgetting things I should know," Moore said. "It's not horribly frustrating."

But everyone knows that could change. Moore's wife Stephene is a nurse by profession and monitors for signs of the disease.

"The first question is ‘How is Dennis?' I say 'How do you think Dennis is doing?' I see Dennis every day," she said.

Stephene is Moore's strongest ally. Together they manage his schedule, attend support groups and advocate around the country for funding and awareness.

"If there is a diagnosis, don't go hide. Enlist your family.  Don't hide," Stephene advised.

Moore faces fate head on.

"I'm not angry -- I guess I should have expected it.  My dad had it and there are genetics involved, so I wasn't surprised," he noted.

But Moore doesn't see Alzheimer's as the end of anything. 

"I hope one day science will find a better way to treat it. But a cure… that would be nice," he said.

Stephene now pays the bills, shoulders household responsibility and occasionally gives in to a spouse's sense of worry.

"Dennis has trouble with short term memory.  I worry he will leave the house go somewhere and he will forget where he will be going," she admitted.

Life is less certain for the Moores. They live day to day. While they enjoy support from children, grandchildren and friends, they admit Alzheimer's brings change and pain.

"We've had some friends who have been uncomfortable with this and there's been some distance. We are okay with that we knew that might happen," Stephene said.

They handle it all with an old married couple's corny sense of humor.

She shushes him often, something about which Moore repeatedly teases his wife.

"When Stephene says do something I am smart and say, ‘Yes dear,'" Moore said.

His guitar and sense of humor have helped him make it through difficult days.

"My amazing sense of humor kept me sane in congress for 12 years. I felt that helped me during hard times there and it will help me through hard times here," Moore said.

Stephene says they make a good team.

"I get my strength from him," she said.  "I am really proud of the way he is dealing with this."

Above all the Moores want people to know that Alzheimer's is a disease, not a death sentence. They say no one should give up or give in.

"You enjoy life as much as you can," Stephene said. "But you cherish the moment."

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