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When memory fades

Senator-Collins-with-group-(1).jpgCarol Edgecomb realized something was wrong when she looked out across the yard and saw her husband, Wayne, sitting at the picnic table cradling his head in his hands. He said he was overwhelmed. Carol and Wayne had promised each other that, when their two-story Eddington home and sprawling yard became too much to keep, they’d sell. The couple made plans to relocate.
 
Wayne had spent his career as a project manager with a local university’s facilities department. A carpenter at heart, he has a mind for building and design. These days though, Carol says he can’t remember what he intended to build with those materials in his workshop.
 
At the time of their move, Carol noticed Wayne was uncharacteristically confused by the process, which drove her to make an appointment with their family physician. Wayne was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, but his physician didn’t see cause for alarm. Meanwhile, Wayne’s mind was deteriorating. In 2014, a chance meeting between the Edgecomb’s daughter and an Ellsworth neurologist led to a diagnosis of probable Alzheimer’s disease. What happened next, Carol recalls, “was the best thing that ever could have happened to us.” Wayne was referred to Clifford Singer, MD, chief of Geriatric Mental Health and Neuropsychiatry at Acadia Hospital (Acadia) and Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC).
 
Dr. Singer began conducting Alzheimer’s clinical trials five years ago with his team at Acadia’s Mood and Memory Clinic. The trials offer patients access to experimental therapies in Alzheimer’s disease and other cognitive disorders while advancing the field of Alzheimer’s research. When Wayne entered his first trial, Carol saw improvement in her husband for the first time. To Carol, the clinical team conducting the trials have been a lifeline. “Not only is Wayne getting the medication, he’s also getting the best of care and support our family needs. The trials offer hope.”
 
These trials and others can be offered in large part due to the support of the EMMC Clinical Research Center, a resource for research activities at EMHS. It provides services for conducting clinical trials, outcomes and health services research including protocol preparation, study design, grant application submission, data collection, training, and more. Barbara Sorondo, MD, MBA, director of The Clinical Research Center says since its creation in 2006, research projects run through the center have brought in $18 million in public and private research funds, involving more than 2,000 patients in 14 different clinical areas. She welcomes anyone interested in research to attend the second annual EMMC Research Expo on Friday, September 29. “Patients need to know about clinical trials being offered in the system because they provide options. Everyone who works in healthcare should be thinking about what they can do to improve patient care. If you have an idea, we have the resources to develop that idea.” Dr. Singer spent much of his career teaching at the university level and research has been an important part of his work. “Shortly after my arrival, I met with Dr. Sorondo and was thrilled to hear about the services and support they could offer our providers and patients.”
 
The Edgecombs have become champions of clinical trials and encourage all families to consider them. Carol says, “Without these trials, we’re never going to find a cure. We need people to try these things out for future generations.” After his diagnosis, Wayne had to give up driving, cannot run errands alone, or build that new deck for their camper. Yet in sickness and in health, the Edgecombs still find joy every day. In August, they celebrated their fifty-third wedding anniversary with a ‘night out’ and lobster rolls.
 
Find out about EMHS clinical trials open to patients at www.emmcclinicalresearch.org.
 
Learn how to start your own trial or research project at The Clinical Research Centers’ Investigator’s page at http://intranet.emhs.org/EMMC-Portals/EMMC-Portals/Investigators-Portal.aspx.
 
To access great information about all stages of Alzheimer’s disease, visit the Alzheimer’s Association (https://www.alz.org) and the National Institute on Aging (https://www.nia.nih.gov/).