Miami Valley Alzheimer’s Association hopes Jack Hanna’s dementia diagnosis raises awareness

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — The family of Jack Hanna announced Wednesday that the former Columbus Zoo Director will no longer be able to participate in public life after a dementia diagnosis.

The Miami Valley’s Alzheimer’s Association says Jack’s diagnosis may be similar to other local family’s. The association says there are about 20,000 people here in the Miami Valley diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and 220,000 in the state. They believe Jack’s diagnosis will bring awareness to the disease.

“It does make more people aware of this disease and how prevalent it is and that anyone can be affected by it,” said Rebecca Hall, director of programs with the association.

Jack’s family says his condition progressed much faster in the last few months than anticipated,  which the Miami Valley’s Alzheimer’s Association says many families with loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia experience differently.

“There’s really no normal,” said Hall. “There are common signs and symptoms and it’s always a progressive disease but it can progress quickly or slowly depending on the person.”

Hall says COVID-19 spread rapidly through the Alzheimer’s community due to age playing a significant role and other challenges.

“Some of the protective measures that a lot of us are able to do and understand like wearing a mask, washing our hands regularly and keeping a safe distance, people with Alzheimer’s or dementia might not understand why they need to do those things or be able to do them,” said Hall.

The Miami Valley’s Alzheimer’s Association says the number one way the community can help is just to be aware, know the signs and symptoms of dementia in order to help those in public. 

For a list of signs and symptoms of someone living with Alzheimer’s or dementia, click here.

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