Give hope this Christmas - Help light the way for early Alzheimer’s detection

Published on
5 December 2023
Rowan Sproule who is keen to support groundbreaking Alzheimer's research

As we celebrate the spirit of giving and togetherness this festive season, we want to ask if you will give the ultimate gift of helping others by making a life-saving gift to support Alzheimer’s disease research.

We’d like to introduce you to Rowan, a 72-year-old proud Tasmanian, who regrettably watched his eldest brother Colin succumb to Alzheimer’s disease some years ago. Colin was the heart of every family gathering and activity. He was the best friend to all his siblings and Rowan’s children adored ‘pop’.

The family’s world came crashing down when they noticed Colin started to forget basic details and subsequently had a significant shift in his personality, becoming increasingly sombre in his ways.

“I remember the day when Colin let us all know that things had changed in his life after a diagnosis of late-stage Alzheimer’s disease and that’s when it all made sense,” said Rowan.

“It was crushing to watch him get worse and became harder for us to provide him with the constant support, particularly after he had fallen into a deep sleep in his final stages of life.”

On Colin’s last day, Rowan recalls that he and his older brother Brendon sat at the end of his hospital bed chatting. Colin hadn’t spoken in weeks, but in that emotional moment Rowan’s wife, a Nurse Practitioner, cheerfully entered the room during her rounds. She addressed Colin and asked about the light-hearted banter shared by Rowan and Brendon during their time at his bedside.

Colin suddenly murmured “Yes, they’re ratbags chatting over me while I lay here in my bed, but I enjoy hearing their voices”.

“They were his last spoken words before he passed away later that evening. It was a very sad, but perfect final day,” describes Rowan.

Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation funded researcher Associate Professor Lyn Goldberg

Associate Professor Lyn Goldberg believes tongue strength could be an early biomarker for the early detection of dementia.

The Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation now needs your help to get ahead of Alzheimer’s disease and help families like Rowan and Colin’s.

We are on the verge of making some incredible breakthroughs to detect Alzheimer’s disease decades before symptoms emerge and help people like Colin receive early intervention - but we need your help to make this possible.

Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation researcher and speech pathologist Dr Lyn Goldberg believes that a person’s tongue strength may be an important, but yet unrecognised contributing factor to early detection!

With your support, Dr Goldberg and a dedicated team of Tasmanian researchers will conduct an innovative study to investigate how a loss of tongue strength may help predict this awful disease. These results will inform the development of an easily accessible and low-cost test to identify a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr Goldberg and her team will study people who are concerned about their thinking and memory, but who do not have a diagnosis of dementia, to measure their tongue strength and ability to repeat a series of syllables as fast as they can. Their results will be compared to results from a group of people who have no concerns about thinking and memory. People in both groups will also have highly specialised blood tests which can predict Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr Goldberg explains “We believe these results will help us identify a further non-invasive, affordable and easily accessible way to predict potential cognitive decline.”

Rowan and his siblings are already keen to register for Dr Goldberg’s upcoming study. “This seems like the perfect way to help provide essential health data to help others, while also taking early steps to ensure I’m safeguarding my brain health for as long as I can,” Rowan explains.

Please, this Christmas, will you consider giving a gift to the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation to help Dr Goldberg and her team explore how tongue strength can revolutionise the way we diagnose and ultimately treat Alzheimer’s disease?

Your generous tax-deductible donation will not only help local Tasmanians but will make a profound impact the health and wellbeing of people worldwide.

Thank you for supporting medical research. With your help, we can create a brighter and healthier future for our community this Christmas.

P.S. The number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease set to triple by 2050. Will you make a tax-deductible donation this Christmas to help fund ground-breaking new research to revolutionise how doctors test and treat this terrible disease?