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“I hoped it would go away,” Wife of former Oklahoma lawmaker diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s

BETHANY, Okla. - When Jason and Lori Nelson married 20 years ago, they never could have imagined the magnitude of their vows.

"There is nothing that can prepare you for it," said Lori.

There were subtle signs and symptoms going back three to five years. Lori had several minor car accidents and became increasingly forgetful. She was the assistant press secretary for Senator Don Nickles.

"I knew something was wrong, but I didn't want to face it. I hoped it would go away. I just ignored it, but you can only do that so long," said Lori.

Finally, Lori relented to a battery of neurological tests, confirming the Nelson's worst fears.

"Last October, on my birthday as it turns out, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's after results of a PET scan," said Jason.

At the time of her diagnosis, Lori was only 54 years old.

"It is young. It's just sad. I feel like I'm leaving my family and I can't help it. That's really, really hard," Lori told News 4.

The family of four is enjoying their time together. Lori's condition has stabilized for now.

Now, the Nelsons are using their new challenge as an opportunity to raise awareness.

Lori recently delivered her powerful story at the State Capitol.

"She wanted to share her story while she could. To raise awareness," Jason told News 4. "Because we have kids and middle of our careers, it's a compelling story. It breaks the stereotype of older retired people getting it."

They are exploring clinical trials, forming a support group with the local Alzheimer's Association, along with eating healthier and exercising.

They acknowledge the diagnosis is bleak.

"If not for us, for our kids and everyone else's kids around here . We hope it’s something that is just a bad memory. At some point," said Jason.

Sadly, there are 200,000 young people, just like Lori, living with this disease.

Click here to learn more about support groups or help fight for a cure.