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Daughter: Reagan’s Alzheimer’s Bad

March 21, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Despite the hopes of well wishers, former President Reagan has not been spared the deteriorating effects of Alzheimer’s disease, his daughter Maureen said Monday, the night before she was to testify about the disease before a Senate subcommittee.

``He’s doing very well, but the disease is just awful,″ she said. ``It just gets worse every day.″

Reagan told the world in a poignant letter six years ago that he had the memory-sapping disease, and he hasn’t been seen in public for about a year.

Ms. Reagan joined about 400 other family members of people with Alzheimer’s on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for a candlelight vigil to honor people with the disease.

While she did not go into detail concerning her father’s condition, in January, Ms. Reagan said the former president cannot speak coherently and no longer can join her in working simple jigsaw puzzles because of failing motor skills.

``A lot of people ask me (how he is) because I think they hope that somehow we’ve been spared, but nobody’s spared _ not in this disease,″ she said Monday.

Ms. Reagan, a board member of the Alzheimer’s Association, is to speak Tuesday before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that deals with health issues. She said they will ask for an additional $100 million for Alzheimer’s research.

To coincide with the hearing, the association plans to release a new analysis of census data that finds the number of Americans with Alzheimer’s will more than triple in the next 50 years. By 2025, California will lead the nation with more than 800,000 people with the disease, the association found.

``Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t make special arrangements for presidents or first ladies of anyone else for that matter,″ Ms. Reagan said in a statement. ``When it takes hold it follows its own course of destruction, frequently ravaging not only its direct victim, but also the caregivers and loved ones along with it.″

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