Pat Summitt plans to keep coaching women's college basketball despite her diagnoses of early-onset dementia, she said.
In a statement to the University of Tennessee and her Lady Vol basketball team, Summitt. After months of memory lapses, Summitt recently visited the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where doctors diagnosed her having with a rare form of Alzheimer's-type dementia that strikes people younger than 65, who often have a family history of Alzheimer's disease.
Dementia risk increases with age. Alzheimer's disease -- the commonest form of dementia -- affects up to half of people older than 85. Pat Summitt Won't Stop Coaching Despite Dementia.
Summitt's son Tyler, 20, called his mom's courage and honesty about her diagnosis inspiring.
The course of early-onset dementia is variable, so it's unclear how quickly or slowly Summitt's symptoms will progress.
"Pat Summitt is our head coach, and she will continue to be," vice chancellor and athletics director Joan Cronan said in a statement. Pat Summitt, the winningest coach in college basketball history, has faced her share of adversaries on the court. Summitt, the 59-year-old coach of the Tennessee Lady Vols, has been diagnosed with early onset dementia.
Dementia that strikes before age 65 is considered early-onset Alzheimer's, according to the Mayo Clinic. It constitutes about 5 percent of Alzheimer's diagnoses - striking about 200,000 people per year. How much time does Summitt have left? Just as Summitt stated her intentions to remain as head coach, the Alzheimer's Association also recommends people diagnosed with early-onset dementia work as long as they and their doctors feel they can, and use a daily planner and other memory aids to organize job details.
"I'm not going to let this keep me from coaching," Summitt told the Washington Post. Pat Summitt is the winningest coach in the history of college basketball, men's or women's — she has 1,071 of them. Summitt has created so many memories for women's sports. (MORE: Q&A With Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt)
Now, Alzheimer's may erase all these memories for Summitt. Summitt is going to keep coaching. Just watch Summitt's interview with Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins, who co-authored Summitt's 1999 book, Reach for the Summitt and remains a close friend. You could argue that Summitt shouldn't coach. Summitt's players will surely support her. They'll know that Summitt's fight is bigger than themselves. And no one will fight this disease better that Pat Summitt.