Dan Jaworski, an international investment manager from Orlando, traveled to Thailand in 2019. What he thought was a typical family vacation would change his life forever.
Jaworski dismissed worries from his wife Julie and their two children when confronted about repeating himself and forgetting certain things. He instead blamed it on the frantic travel schedule.
“I had always been forgetful, so I didn’t think much of it when they brought it up,” said Jaworski. When he arrived back home, he couldn’t figure out how to get to his local college, a place he says he visited hundreds of times before. That’s when the worry set in.
Jaworski decided it was time to visit his primary care physician in hopes of getting some answers. Unfortunately, after some cognitive testing and an MRI and PET scan, Jaworski was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer’s.
MCI is an early stage of memory loss or other cognitive ability loss (such as language or visual/spatial perception) in individuals who maintain the ability to independently perform most activities of daily living. It is estimated that 12% to 18%of adults aged 60 and older have MCI. About one-third of people with MCI due to Alzheimer’s develop the disease within five years. After his diagnosis, Jaworski set out on a crusade to figure out how he could improve and maintain his brain health moving forward.
Proper nutrition, sleep, exercise and brain activity became vital in his daily life.
“You can’t change what happened, but you can change your response,” said Dan.
Today, Jaworski is a proud member of the 2022-2023 National Early-Stage Advisory Group for the Alzheimer’s Association. He is one of nine individuals chosen to serve on the group out of more than 35 applicants across the country. These individuals help raise awareness of Alzheimer’s and other dementia by sharing their personal insights and experiences of living with dementia with media and other audiences across the country.
“I have never encountered a more willful and determined person,” said Jaworski’s wife, Julie. Jaworski exercises daily and follows the MIND diet – a brain-healthy diet that stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay.
“I know the clock is ticking, so I want to be as proactive as possible,” Jaworski adds of his new lifestyle change.
Despite what the future may hold, Jaworski remains hopeful and occupied with all that is positive in his life. He says he looks forward to reaching “as many people as possible” as an early-stage advisor.
Recently, he completed the IRONMAN competition in Kona, Hawaii as part of the Longest Day initiative from the Alzheimer’s Association, raising over $45,000.
“This race was very emotional for me as I have dedicated each mile to someone that is an Alzheimer caregiver, lost their life to the disease or is still fighting for their mind and life,” said Jaworski. “This is a club none of us wish to be in, but this community has grit and love and tries to find beauty and strength in the struggle.”
If you have a question or concern, call the Alzheimer’s Association Central & North Florida Chapter 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900 or visit alz.org/cnfl.