kaci koviak:a 65-year-old tyler man is showing courage in the face of adversity. don kent has an aggressive form of dementia.since his diagnosis, he has been dedicated to educating others about the illness. tonight, in our special series about alzheimer's disease and dementia...ketk today anchor isaac ramirez shows us what east texans can learn from the kent family's experience. 3 don kent is your average texan...he enjoys waking up to the smell of coffee. don kent: "capucinos and that sort of thing."collects baseball cards...don kent: "eddie matthews...third baseman right there." and loves his wife and their three sons.earlier this year, don's routine was suddenly interrupted.:24-:34 don kent: "i passed out while i was at dinner in new orleans for a family wedding. my wife's family is from new orleans and i started feeling odd at the dinner table and passed out."don sought medical care...and a couple of heart problems were found, resulting in a pacemaker... but...don kent: "i had extreme cloudyness of thinking." he consulted doctors in both tyler and dallas...but his condition became worse. don kent: i started having suicidal thoughts and ideations, and i've never had anything like that before. i hadn't been getting any answers here. that's when i was told that maybe i had to go to the mayo clinic. 1:05-1:15isaac ramirez: "that's where he was diagnosed with lewy body dementia. a disease that causes a progressive decline in mental abilities. it's caused by protein buildups in the brain. don kent: "i was stunned that i was diagnosed with a condition that i've never heard of." according to the lewy body dementia association, the disease affects an estimated 1 point 4 million americans. doctors can miss it because symptoms resemble alzheimer's and parkinsons. and most medical professionals are still not familiar with the disease. as a result, it is widely underdiagnosed.don kent: i experienced a huge sense of relief of finding out and finally knowing why i was having the problems i was already having."according to the mayo clinic...lewy body dementia causes aggressive behavior in patients. depression...an increase in parkinsonian symptoms...and ultimately leads to death...on average about eight years after symptoms start. 2:00-2:08 cynthia kent: "once he explained what the disease was, there's a great sadness that comes over you." don and his wife cynthia got married in 1975, after meeting while in school at baylor...don kent: "i was in the debate office, i was a sophomore. i was getting ready for the season, working with my debate partner. a very attractive young lady came in. my debate partner asked who is that? i said i don't know, but i'm going to marry her."for decades, as an attorney in tyler, don represented doctors and hospitals in malpractice cases.cynthia served as a state district judge. her love for her husband...is unconditional. 2:45-2:55 cynthia kent: "we have family together, and of course, our faith. our lord jesus works with everyone who faces sadness, sorrow, loss and disease." cynthia has been by her husband every step of the way...making preparations for what's to come. cynthia kent: "we immediately started talking about what to do in the future. making sure our legal life was in order. we went to see our financial advisor to make plans for my husband not working."cynthia kent: they put a shower that was handicap accessible so you can roll up in a wheelchair." don's disease continues to progress....he's now experiencing auditory hallucinations. don kent: "i was here on the couch and thought i heard a train coming through the house. i knew that didn't make sense, but to me, i was sensing and hearing a train chugging down the track and coming into our house." operating the microwave has also become a challenge. don kent: "it's not really a memory issue. it's a cognitive issue, i know i'm suppose to be pushing buttons, but i can't remember which buttons and in which order."and he's acting out his dreams. don kent: "i usually dream i'm in a fight...and one night i gave my wife a black eye." he's taking several 3 prescriptions to slow the disease's progression....incl uding tumeric as a supplement. don kent: "the highest intake happens in india...per person intake of tumeric is the highest. the lowest rate of dementia in the world is in india."for now, don is dedicating his life towards educating east texans about this disease...nats of speech he recently spoke at ground rounds inside ut health northeast... a forum for doctors and medical students. nats of speech"i need to have 3 a purpose, and this is my purpose...to let people know about this." don says he doesn't fear his future...but doesn't look forward to it either.
"i don't want to be a burden on my family. but you become a burden."don and cynthia spend their days looking at old photos... cynthia: "here is my mother roller skating..gosh mom." ...staring into each others eyes...while holding hands... hanging on to the memories they've made...don kent: "eventually i won't remember the past, so the best thing to do is live for today the best way you can. that's what i'm trying to do."isaac ramirez ketk