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Couple’s struggle to be shown on TV

When you meet him, it would be nearly impossible to tell that Geoff Holland has Alzheimer’s disease.

The former chemist speaks eloquently with a British accent, reflective of his scientific schooling and background. But about five years ago, Holland began forgetting things.

One of the first signs occurred at work. Walking in the hallways of a food packaging firm in Atlanta, Ga., Holland would see colleagues, “and I couldn’t remember their names.”



His physicist wife, Chris Holland, thought something was going wrong with their marriage. He would forget things she told him, “and I thought he was maybe just ignoring me.”

What the Hollands found out was that Geoff was showing the first signs of Alzheimer’s. Their struggle since then with the disease will be part of a three-show lineup about Alzheimer’s tomorrow night on KVIE, the public television station in Sacramento most often found on Channel 6.




The lineup will start at 8 p.m. with “The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer’s,” the national lead-in based on a best seller by David Shenk titled “The Forgetting: Alzheimer’s: Portrait of an Epidemic.”

Following that biological and historic work about the disease, the Hollands will be part of a half-hour show at 9:30 p.m. called “Caring & Coping: Living with Alzheimer’s.” The KVIE production deals with the effects of Alzheimer’s on those involved with the University of California at Davis’ research into the disease.

Both Chris and Geoff Holland will be on camera in a look at four families. That segment will be followed by yet another at 10 a.m. called “Alzheimer’s: An African-American Perspective.”

Shortly after Geoff’s problems began in 1999, he got a bad evaluation at work “and then he was summarily dismissed,” Chris said. Fortunately, a neighbor was a doctor and got them to get an Alzheimer’s diagnosis through Emory University in Atlanta and another physician.

That allowed the Hollands to receive a disability package they both could live on. By shuffling houses in Atlanta, they were able to buy a Grass Valley home. When they moved to Grass Valley, Geoff was referred to UC Davis by Emory.

While they enjoy California and their friends here, the Hollands were reminded early on that the struggle within does not end with a physical move.

“In California, if you have an accident (in traffic) and you have Alzheimer’s, you’ve virtually signed away your house and home,” Geoff said. “Chris has to do all the driving now.”

It is just one of many things Chris does for Geoff all day long as his primary caregiver. When they work on their home remodeling tasks, Chris has to remind Geoff which step to take next and has to organize the job beforehand.

“You don’t give me a string of instructions,” he said. “By the time the second set comes, I’ve forgotten the first.”

However, a medication called Reminyl slows down the progression of the disease, Chris said, and it has improved her husband’s short-term memory. “We are doing everything we can to slow the disease,” she said, including taking vitamins in a UC Davis study to see if there is improvement or braking of the disease.

The Hollands have received many suggestions on how to deal with Alzheimer’s, including some ideas on holistic remedies from Nevada County residents. “But we’re both scientists, and we want to be scientific in our approach,” Chris said.

You can see just how scientific Wednesday night.

___

One family’s story

What: “Caring & Coping: Living with Alzheimer’s” television segment

When: 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Where: KVIE Sacramento, PBS Channel 6 on most systems.


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