UW Health researching disease highlighted on 'This Is Us'

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MILTON, Wis. (WMTV) -- A popular NBC show, This Is Us, is shedding light on a common disease -- memory loss. One of the main characters on the show shares the same diagnosis with a man from Milton, Bob Pickett.

Bob Pickett suffers from Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). He has a memory room with pictures of family history, travels, and drawings from his grandchildren.

Pickett has Mild Cognitive Impairment, known as MCI. It is a common disease that is described as "thinking changes." It falls in the same family as Dementia, and Alzhiemer's.

"I left two jobs of this because I just couldn't remember things, " Pickett says, "So, it is serious."

Once a college professor, and principal in the Beloit School District, Pickett did his fair share of research when he saw the first signs of him forgetting things. He went to three different clinics and hospitals before he was officially diagnosed with MCI at UW Health Hospital in Madison.

"I think more people are learning about but I think in general, most people think of Alzheimer's disease and Dementia," Dr. Nate Chin said.

Dr. Chin is a UW Health memory care physician that believes in raising awareness about memory loss. As a doctor and researcher, he tries to help as many patients with memory loss that he can since father passed away from Dementia.

Dr. Chin says Alzhiemer's is the process in the brain that can cause MCI and Dementia. He says people commonly confuse the three all together and that is why getting tested for MCI can deliver more solid diagnosis.

“The testing people do is not pleasant but it is incredibly useful,” Dr. Chin said. “We absolutely need it for an accurate diagnosis."

Pickett is familiar with Chin and his research. He has participated in clinical studies at The Wisconsin Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at UW Health and says it is certain suggestions he learned in Madison that he's implemented everyday.

“If there is something I can do to help, I will do it, “ Pickett said.

Pickett has followed the instructions of Chin to try certain things daily that will slow his MCI. Yoga, a healthy diet, drinking a lot of water, meditating, and doing puzzles are a few to name.

"I haven't made it an emotional thing. I stick to what is going to work. and I don't let it affect me that much," Pickett.

UW health offers free MCI community classes. The next one is March 28. Here is the link to sign up for classes and learn more : https://www.adrc.wisc.edu/healthy-living-mild-cognitive-impairment

The Wisconsin Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at UW Health has several research studies with MCI participants and we need more people to volunteer for research studies with MCI so if interested they can call: (608) 265-0407.

This story first aired in Morgan Wolfe's In Focus series on CW News at 9.