LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The late Nancy Reagan had said the hardest part of Alzheimer’s disease was not being able to share old memories with her husband, who was diagnosed in 1994.
Yet, she was relentless in her search for a cure for her beloved Ronnie.
“I think we’re all feeling a loss. This is a pioneering woman,” said John Seiber with Alzheimer’s Greater Los Angeles.
Seiber says Reagan helped shed much-needed light on the neurological disease after her husband publicly battled it.
“She really pushed stem cell research, which is critical in trying to find a cure or some sort of treatment for this disease,” he said.
After the former president passed away, Reagan and the couple’s daughter Patti Davis continued to advocate for new treatment.
“I went through a decade of losing my father to this disease and didn’t have anybody to talk to,” Davis said in 2012 while talking with CBS2 about her mission to help others in dealing with the disease.
Davis began co-leading a support group at the hospital named after her father: the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
“My hope is to be able to give people a different way of looking at the disease,” she said.
On Sunday night, UCLA expressed condolences to Davis after learning of her mother’s passing, releasing a statement that reads in part:
“Our former first lady served as an important voice and advocate for people and families suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, bringing much-needed public awareness to efforts to treat and cure the illness.”
Seiber says the former first lady will always be remembered for her immeasurable impact on the fight to end Alzheimer’s.
“The Reagan family really raised the awareness and raised the bar,” he said.
Beyond Alzheimer’s, the support group Davis helped start, hold meetings every other week in Santa Monica.