Oklahoma Watches and Warnings

Oklahoma couple learns how to live life adventurously after early-onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis

Jon Harpman is an athlete. He loves to pull on his running shoes every day and hit the trail around Mitch Park in Edmond.

But about a year ago, both Jon and his wife Kristin Davis began noticing something was wrong.

"He would stop mid-sentence...sometimes mid-word, and it was very unusual to do that and occasionally, he would miss meetings," says Kristin.

Jon was tested. The then 54-year-old was shocked when he was told he has early on-set Alzheimer’s.

"When I was diagnosed, I cried every night,” Jon told us.  “Why me? It's not fair.”

But Jon decided, with his wife’s help, he would fight back to regain his life.

"Once we got through the shock and denial stage, we said, 'Okay, Alzheimer’s is part of our life.' Obviously we're facing reality, but we wanted to work our way around it and still have the incredible life that we want to have together," Kristin says.

So they decided to embrace adventure outside their comfort zone.

"One thing we did was we took a helicopter ride into the Grand Canyon and I’m terrified of heights and I swore that I would never get in a helicopter, but it was amazing."

They also went dog sledding in Colorado.  Then in January, they ran a half marathon at Pebble Beach and Jon got to play the famous Pebble Beach golf course.

It’s still a struggle and Jon is on medication that is slowing the progress of the disease; both Jon and Kristin want to change the perception of the face of Alzheimer’s.

“You always see the pamphlets for Alzheimer’s and it's depicted as an elderly disease or a very elderly disease,” Jon says. “It's not fair because I’m 55-years-old and people have it younger than me.  It’s a disease that affects a lot of people that you'll never know."

Both Jon and Kristen will take part in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Oklahoma City on October 13th.

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