“It was an easy decision to participate in research”, says Manchester academic living with Alzheimer’s Disease
Dale Kay and her husband Professor Roger Kay live in East Didsbury, Manchester, which has been their home for 30 years.
Having both graduated in non-law subjects, the couple met in 1973 on a conversion course to become solicitors in Guildford, Surrey. They married in Guildford in 1977 and have one son.
Both went on to have long and prestigious careers; first as lecturers on solicitors’ professional courses, then Roger was a practising solicitor, and then as academics who imparted their knowledge to students in higher education, and in Dale’s case, also on solicitors’ qualifying courses.
Mrs Kay became a lecturer in law at Manchester Metropolitan University, where she worked for seventeen years before her retirement in 2005.
She was a respected figure in her fields and notably co-authored “Solicitors’ Accounts – A Practical Guide”, a student handbook published by the Oxford University Press.
Mrs Kay, now 71, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease around two years ago. As is often the case, due to the absence of a single diagnostic test for dementia-related conditions, it took some time before a definitive diagnosis could be applied to her.
Prof Kay estimates he noticed the first indicators of his wife’s onset around four-to-five years ago, though the signs were far from obvious and have developed subtly (to some degree) over time.
The diagnosis was not unexpected in the end for the family and they have accepted it with good grace.
The progression of Mrs Kay’s condition has been moderate so far and she continues to enjoy an active lifestyle. Less than two months ago the couple enjoyed a holiday together in the Canary Islands.
Mrs Kay has drawn comfort from, and enjoyed taking part in, four research studies which will help health professionals better understand neurodegenerative conditions and achieve improvements in their prevention, treatment and care.
The option to participate was first raised by Mrs Kay’s clinician and she did not hesitate to say yes.
Mrs Kay is currently taking part in a study which is assessing the effects of a new study drug on participants with early Alzheimer’s disease. The study is on the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) portfolio and supported locally by the Clinical Research Network, Greater Manchester.
Mrs Kay visits the NIHR Manchester Clinical Research Facility, based at Manchester Royal Infirmary once every four weeks for an intravenous infusion of the drug.
Prof Kay, 66, an Emeritus Head of Law and retired Associate Dean for the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Chester, said: “Having come from an academic background, we know the value of research and it was a very easy decision for both of us. There was absolutely no doubt that she wanted to take part in any properly accredited research for which she qualified.
“If Dale’s input into this trial and its overall findings can help anyone in the future, that would be fantastic. And if there is a chance that it might help her – and we are both realistic about this – then that is an added bonus.
“It is also the type of research that is not going to cause any negative side-effects. Dale enjoys taking part; it gives her an added purpose, something else to do, and we have both encountered such incredibly nice people.
“Dementia-related conditions will become an even bigger issue because we are an ageing population, so it is vitally important that research like this is being conducted. We are only too happy to help in our own, small way.”
Prof Kay wished to thank Together Dementia Support – a not-for-profit Community Interest Company offering support and therapeutic activities for people living with dementia, their carers and supporters in Manchester. They provide high quality activity and support groups to help people with dementia to maintain skills and hobbies, and to enable both them and their carers to make friends and maintain wellbeing.