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  1. #1
    Willowdared's Avatar
    Willowdared is offline Bendy not Breaky
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    Police Chief Diagnosed with Alzheimers

    This was in video format only....

    Police Chief Diagnosed With Alzheimer's at 49 (Video Only)

    Last Updated:
    05-25-07 at 2:18PM

    Alzheimer's disease is tough on any family, but imagine being diagnosed in the prime of your life. That's what happened to one police chief in Illinois. But this small town chief decided to deal with it head on.

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  2. #2
    lewisipso's Avatar
    lewisipso is offline Injustice/Indifference/In God we trust
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  3. #3
    mfranklin01's Avatar
    mfranklin01 is offline its not vendication...its punishment
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    that just goes to show you what people can do when you stop feeling sorry for yourself and start doing something to better the situation. How many other people would have heard that and said "oh poor me...i have to quit doing everything now and live off of the goverment". well done chief. well done.
    "Be Polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet"

  4. #4
    BEB is offline Banned
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    To your health, Chief Johansen.

    PD - hope you don't mind me including a text account of his story for those who might not be able to watch the video.

    LEXINGTON — The gun in Spencer Johansen’s holster weighs more than the sum of its parts. Ask any police officer. A judgment call can mean the difference between life and death.

    Now, what if a police officer discovered he was living with the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Would it matter?

    Lexington residents have not been quick to make that call after their 49-year-old chief of police sent out a letter in the city’s water bill last week.

    “I have been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment; this is a transition stage between the cognitive changes of normal aging and Alzheimer’s disease,” Johansen wrote.

    Johansen has decided to stay on the job. His willingness to go public with what some would say might be a career-ending condition does not appear to have eroded Lexington’s faith in their 18-years-on-the-job police chief.

    “There hasn’t been one concern voiced, either from the City Council or public,” said John Mohr, Lexington’s mayor.

    “We’re relying on Spencer’s reports from his doctor as to what course of action to take,” Mohr said. “At this point, there’s nothing to be concerned about.”

    Johansen said, “I thought the newsletter was the best way to let people know what was going on in my life.”

    Rumors around town led Johansen to go public with his diagnosis.

    “Someone thought I was dying of cancer,” he said.

    Alzheimer’s is not an easy disease to diagnose, said Robert Baker, program manager for the Alzheimer’s Association’s Greater Illinois Chapter. Beyond neuropsychological testing, there is no clear-cut medical test short of an autopsy to determine if someone has Alzheimer’s disease.

    He said the disease often is masked in an aging population.

    “Alzheimer’s can best be explained with a set of car keys,” said Lorraine Willmot, director of communications for the Alzheimer’s chapter.

    “Everyone eventually misplaces their car keys,” she said. “The difference is when you have a set of keys in your hand and don’t know what they are for.”

    For Johansen, diagnosis was not a simple matter.

    He first noticed symptoms two years ago.

    “There were a couple of little things — where I had forgotten what our daughter was doing and later a couple of missed court appearances — that got me thinking something wasn’t right,” Johansen said.

    The two missed court appearances were the clincher.

    That reminded him of his uncle, Junior Worthy, who was the Atlanta police chief when he started missing court dates. The 55-year-old law officer had began steadily losing cognitive ability.

    “He was a big, strapping guy,” Johansen said. “When he died five or six years later he weighed 80 pounds.”

    Johansen said the fact the disease runs in his family prodded him to be tested by two neuropsychologists who both suggested tests showed he was living with the earliest stages of Alzheimer’s disease.

    Physicians have begun using a procedure called a positron emission tomography scan, which measures brain metabolism, to suggest the degree of impairment caused by dementia.

    “The PET scan came back and it showed there was some deterioration,” Johansen said.

    Working with local physician Sam Steffen, Johansen began taking Namenda and Aricept, both cholinesterase inhibitors that have been shown to slow progression of the disease.

    “I don’t see things getting any worse,” Johansen said. “The medicine has given me more confidence.”

    Johansen also has returned to long-distance bicycling, an activity that helps reduce stress. Stress can reduce memory and cognitive function, even in younger individuals.

    And, by setting up a scheduling book for important appointments, Johansen said he hasn’t had any significant problems on the job.

    “No one can tell me how fast this will progress,” he said.

    “I’m capable of doing the job,” he said. “I’ll be the first to admit it when I can’t.”

    For now, Johansen and his family are looking for ways to work with the Alzheimer’s Association.

    He recently talked about police officers’ need for additional training on handling Alzheimer’s patients with the McLean County Chiefs of Police.

    “A lot of younger officers have no knowledge of the disease or how to handle advanced Alzheimer’s patients,” he said.

    “We had an elderly farmer who came into town one day and said, ‘Johansen, they’re trying to steal the farm again,’” he said.

    “A younger officer might have started running background checks, but I just called the gentleman’s son to come and pick up his dad.”

    The issue communities often encounter is, “When should a police officer be forced to take disability or retire?” said Laimutis “Limey” Nargelenas, deputy director of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

    He said police departments often have policies to deal with medical impairments, but basically it’s up to the officer’s doctor to decide if the officer should take disability or retire. There also are other options, such as desk duty.

    “The bottom line, however, is that you never want to put the public in danger,” he said.




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