Coach Pat Summitt’s Condition Worsening; Family, Friends, Players Lend Support

By Jim Liao, Epoch Times
June 27, 2016 11:12 am Last Updated: June 27, 2016 11:12 am

Pat Summitt, the legendary former University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach, is experiencing a worsening in her condition.

Summitt, 64, was forced to step down from coaching duties in 2012 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She moved into a retirement center late January, where she has been since.

On Sunday, a source told the Knoxville News Sentinel that Summitt was “struggling” and those close to the coach were “preparing for the worst.”

Several hours later, Erin Freeman of Ackerman Public Relations released the following statement on the Pat Summitt Foundation website:

“On behalf of Pat Summitt’s family, we acknowledge the past few days have been difficult for Pat as her early onset dementia, ‘Alzheimer’s Type,’ progresses. She is surrounded by those who mean the most to her and during this time, we ask for prayers for Pat and her family and friends, as well as your utmost respect and privacy. Thank you.”

Summitt has amassed eight NCAA championships and 1,098 total wins in her 38-year coaching career that spanned from 1974–2012. Summitt has the most wins of any NCAA women’s coach, and is widely considered one of the top 10 coaches of all time.

The Knoxville Sentinel reports that nearly 20 former Tennessee basketball players have visited Summitt, including WNBA stars Candace Parker and Tamika Catchings. Various prominent sports authorities, players, and coaches have also taken to social media to wish Summitt well.

Alzheimer’s

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior.” Dementia is a general term that refers to the loss of memory and other mental abilities to the extent that it inhibits daily living.

Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, meaning that symptoms develop slowly and gradually worsen over time.

The majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 or older, though Alzheimers is not a disease associated with age. Up to 5 percent of Alzheimer patients have early onset Alzheimer’s, which appears when a person is in their 40s or 50s.

Alzheimer is deadly in that it has no current cure, though treatment is available and research is ongoing. Current Alzheimer treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, but they can temporarily slow the worsening of symptoms. Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States.

Alzheimer symptoms can often be difficult to detect as symptoms are similar to natural changes that take place when a person gets older, such as a decreased ability to learn and memory loss.

“The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s is difficulty remembering newly learned information because Alzheimer’s changes typically begin in the part of the brain that affects learning,” the Alzheimer Foundation said.

“As Alzheimer’s advances through the brain it leads to increasingly severe symptoms, including disorientation, mood and behavior changes; deepening confusion about events, time and place; unfounded suspicions about family, friends and professional caregivers; more serious memory loss and behavior changes; and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking.”