As an academic with a 3.73 GPA in his doctorate program, JR Pagan was worried when he started failing courses. His instructors blamed it on stress, but JR felt it had to be something more.
Proving everyone wrong
At age 46, JR was initially diagnosed with a mild cognitive impairment. He was repeatedly assured that he was too young for dementia. Unsatisfied with his diagnosis, JR used his research skills to find more answers. He spent hours poring over resources on the LBDA website. His efforts helped convince his doctor that he might have LBD. Sadly, he was proven right and was ultimately diagnosed with LBD a few months later.
JR knew that life with LBD would be difficult, but as an openly gay Hispanic man he had never been one to shy away from adversity. Prior to his career in academia, JR served in the U.S. military, and had faced many life challenges that prepared him to accept his diagnosis with grace and determination.
He resolved to do just that as he left San Diego with his pup to return to the first caregivers he had ever known – his mother and father. The move put JR in the unique position of being both caregiver and cared for, at times helping his aging parents face their own cognitive decline.
Choosing a positive path
Today, JR is a passionate advocate for those with dementia, working with LBDA support groups and the Dementia Action Alliance. He encourages others to advocate for LBD awareness and support in any way they can, from making posters to talking to their doctors to supporting those who were recently diagnosed and their families.
He also refuses to let LBD change his positive outlook. Whether gardening, going to the gym, or serving others, JR chooses to live well with Lewy for as long as he can and find happiness in every day.
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