A first-of-its-kind program is shining the spotlight on those who volunteer for Alzheimer’s clinical trials. Only three were chosen from more than 100 nominees nationwide and one of them is from Rhode Island. She is Barb Silva.
“I noticed that I was forgetting things or that I couldn’t finish some of the sentences because the words didn’t come,” said Silva—going back to the mid 1980’s. She paid close attention to these symptoms because her dad died from complications of Alzheimer’s. Her close friend, Elaine Sawatsky noticed a further deterioration. “Actually it was about five years ago where she started to just miss stuff, misplace things and not remembering stuff that’s part of daily living type stuff,” said Sawatsky.
“Right now we have over 80 different clinical trials going on nationally,” said Dr. Brian Ott, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders Center at Rhode Island Hospital. And Silva is in one of those clinical trials under the direction of Dr. Ott. Her brain scans show she’s at high risk for developing Alzheimer’s Disease. Her study partner is Sawatsky who helps observe how she’s doing along the way.
“She was diagnosed very early on when she clearly has significant memory symptoms but still is functioning very well in her daily life,” said Ott. It is because of her advocacy and her willingness to be a part of a clinical trial that she is being honored nationally by Global Alzheimer’s Platform. “Their approach has been to recognize that clinical trial volunteers are really citizen scientists; they’re partnering with scientists like people at our center–they’re not passive volunteers,” explained Ott.
“She networks well with other people, no matter–whether she’s at the bank. So this is a national award. I’m floored, by the way,” said Sawatsky. “The more people get involved, the more we can conquer this thing.”
Getting involved means signing up for clinical trials–they’re recruiting those at risk as well as healthy people. In fact, the two other national awardees do not have Alzheimer’s but are major advocates for trial participation.
Call to Action: For more information on Lifespan’s Alzheimer’s Disease & Memory Disorders Center click here.