Dr. Joyce Simons was diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s in 2007 at the age of 57.
For Joyce, one of the many things Alzheimer’s has stolen is a career that she loved. More than a job, teaching and helping to shape young minds was her greatest passion and life’s work for the last 30 years. When Joyce retired she was Dean of the Division of Academic Support Services at Nyack College.
Joyce began to notice things were amiss after she suffered a stroke in the fall of 2006. During her recovery, she began having memory problems and issues with her perception and balance. She would find herself in the middle of a lecture – one that she had given millions of times before – and completely lose her train of thought. She’d forget how to spell simple words and found it challenging to put sentences together. Each day brought on a whole new set of challenges, even though she was doing the same activities she had been doing for the last three decades.
Joyce and her husband, Rene, became increasingly concerned and sought medical help. In February of 2007, she was diagnosed with Pick’s disease. After being urged to seek a second opinion, she went to Columbia University where she was diagnosed with mixed dementia – Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. Armed with this information, Joyce knew she had no choice but to end her teaching career.
In addition to being a member of the national 2009 Early Stage Advisory Group, Joyce is currently active with the Alzheimer’s Association Hudson Valley/Rockland/Westchester Chapter. She testified at the Social Security Administration Compassionate Allowances hearing in Chicago July 29, 2009.
As an Early Stage Advisor, Joyce is committed to raising awareness about Alzheimer’s and educating those around her about life with the disease. She hopes her position as an Early Stage Advisor will provide her with a platform to enlighten others about Alzheimer’s disease, especially those in diverse communities.
Joyce and Rene, live in New City, New York, just outside of New York City.