Sen. Ron Stollings

Amidst all the legislation created within the walls of the Capitol, my fellow legislators and I also take time to celebrate various causes and achievements which occur around this state.

From recognizing different counties to honoring the lives of influential West Virginians, Senate Resolutions serve as a way to strengthen the connection between the Legislature and our constituents.

This week, the Senate was able to celebrate two very special resolutions which pertained to the visibility of health risks present in our counties. On Thursday, my colleagues and I dressed in different shades of red to raise awareness for cardiovascular disease among women. My fellow Senator from the 17th District, Tom Takubo, rose in support of the resolution and shared that one in three women currently face the risk of cardiovascular and heart disease.

During Tuesday's floor session, I rose in support of Senate Resolution 27, which designated Feb. 5, 2019 as West Virginia Alzheimer's Day. I took time to update the chamber on how our state is battling the disease.

Last year the Alzheimer's Association predicted that there are more than 38,000 West Virginians over the age of 65 with Alzheimer's. Personally, I think that's a very low number. At the same time, the association estimated that more than 5 million Americans were living with Alzheimer's, with that number to increase to 16 million by 2050.

In the wake of this disease, research being performed at our universities allow us to attain hope. Dr. Shirley Neitch, a board-certified physician at the Hanshaw Geriatrics Center at Marshall University, leads a multidisciplinary team to care for West Virginians. In addition, she also leads research projects, including an effort called the Dementia Caf in Huntington.

The first of its kind in the state, this establishment offers a welcoming environment for individuals living with Alzheimer's. Dr. Niche also teaches thousands of physicians, like myself, on how to diagnose and better treat plan for individuals living with this horrible disease.

At the West Virginia University Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute, Ali Rezai lead a team in preforming the first phase two trial treatment which utilized ultrasound to treat a patient with early stage Alzheimer's. This trial evaluates the potential benefits of using a focused ultrasound treat the regions of the brain affected by Alzheimer's Disease.

Until research enables us to find a cure, I recognize that families need help. Thankfully, there are numerous efforts currently underway to help West Virginia become the first dementia friendly state. In our very own district, the Boone County Sheriff Department will soon require all members to attend a four hour Alzheimer's training program to become the first sheriff's department in the state which has done so. I'm extremely proud of Chief Deputy Chad Barker and the department.

Finally, as a physician, I can tell you that studies indicate actions we take to improve cardiovascular health are also good for brain health, such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

When there are natural disasters in our state, we see neighbor helping neighbor. I would encourage all of us to think about how we can be supportive of families living with Alzheimer's Disease and ask how ourselves how we can help. Let's do what we do best in West Virginia and offer help and hope to our neighbors.

I also want West Virginia families to know that there is help and there is hope.

I encourage them to visit the Alzheimer's Association's website at ALZ.org to learn about the signs, symptoms ad progression of this disease, or call the 1-800 number where trained counselors are available 24/7 to help answer questions.

Feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns at 304-357-7939, Ron.Stollings@WVSenate.Gov or at my State Capital Office, Room 209W, Building 1, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E, Charleston, WV 25305.