Richard Sloop, M.D., was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the late 1990s. The news hit the family hard, and raised serious questions: How do we handle care? What will be required?
Dr. Sloop, a 1956 graduate of the OHSU School of Medicine (then called the University of Oregon Medical School) had been a successful surgeon in Salem for more than thirty years and raised five children with his wife, Barb.
“It was like hitting a brick wall,” said Barb Sloop. “I had no idea how to move forward. I had to learn about being a caregiver.”
After Dr. Sloop passed away in 2007, the family wanted to give back. In addition to donating money and making provisions in her will to support OHSU research that will someday lead to a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, Barbara wanted to help other families hitting that post-diagnosis “brick wall.”
Barb suggested to Dr. Quinn, “I think we should start a program for families like ours. We need to help the families of newly diagnosed patients.”
Dr. Quinn listened, and together they launched a monthly meeting for families with a new Alzheimer’s diagnosis. The program has been going strong for seven years.
The meetings take place at the Center for Health and Healing and are attended by an OHSU neurologist, who answers medical questions; a representative from the Portland Alzheimer’s Association, to help people find support services; and Barb, who fields questions such as how to communicate with family members and how to deal with stress.
“There’s so much you don’t know – the different stages the disease can take, all the legal implications – all this can be overwhelming. Meeting people who are walking the same road and giving them the benefit of my experience has really helped me in my own recovery,” said Barb. “The brain is an amazing piece of work, and we need to keep supporting this research.”
Plan for today. Give for tomorrow. Change the world. Learn more about Gift Planning at OHSU.
Kate McGinn is gift planning administrator for the OHSU & Doernbecher Foundations.