This content was originally posted on by Yarissa Reyes

Ed Patterson was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2018 at age 71. A Pittsburgh native, Ed moved numerous times to cities across the country as an outsourcing account manager in the banking industry. He retired in 2011, having grown tired of dealing with buyouts and closures resulting from the banking credit crisis in the late 2000s. Ed soon found himself bored by “complete retirement,” and began working part-time at Disney World.

Ed says it was his husband David who first raised concerns about Ed’s cognition. David, who is a nurse, noticed lapses in Ed’s memory and changes in his personality. David noted that Ed was repeating himself, experiencing mood swings and having “a short fuse” – all uncharacteristic
for Ed.

Ed and David brought their concerns to Ed’s primary care physician. His doctor “brushed it off” saying the changes were a side effect of medications Ed was taking and changed his prescription. After several more doctor visits and further cognitive testing, Ed received a PET scan and spinal tap in conjunction with a clinical trial. These tests confirmed Ed’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

Ed confesses that he “shut down” as news of his diagnosis set in. It took several weeks before he was able to slowly start sharing his diagnosis with friends and family members. Overwhelmed with the “outpouring of support” he received, Ed decided to use his voice to speak out to raise awareness and educate others on what it’s like to live with dementia.

Ed and David traveled to Tallahassee, Florida to participate in the state’s annual “Rally in Tally” to meet with state lawmakers and advocate for important Alzheimer’s issues. In 2019, Ed traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement Advocacy Forum – the nation’s premier Alzheimer’s disease advocacy event to advance policies to improve the lives of all individuals affected by dementia.

“My diagnosis woke me up and got me going,” Ed says. “As a face of this disease, I want people to better understand the disease and the challenges associated with it. I’m still Ed. I want people to ask me about my disease and to learn more about it with me.”

As a member of the Alzheimer’s Association National Early-Stage Advisory Group, Ed wants to reduce the stigma surrounding Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. He also wants to stress the importance of funding Alzheimer’s research and care and support programs.

“So many people still don’t understand the disease,” he says. “They don’t realize people in the early stage can still live full, productive lives. But we need funding and support in order to be able to do so.”

Ed and his husband David have been domestic partners for 32 years and married for the past four years. Ed will be the keynote speaker at an upcoming LGBT educational event in Lutz entitled Think About It: Aging with Pride.

The free educational event scheduled for October 25 will include a screening of the film GEN SILENT, a documentary exploring why LGBT older people are going back into the closet to survive old age. Other topics include Embracing the Rainbow: Providing LGBTQ+ Inclusive Care, The Experience of LGBT Seniors – Same or Different?, and Know the 10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease. For more information and to register, call 800.272.3900.

This content was originally posted on by Yarissa Reyes