Local doctor shares emotional decision to leave practice following Alzheimer's diagnosis

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Lori and Doctor Richard Reiner have been married nearly 25 years. They were both working in the health care industry when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease.

After years in the practice, Dr. Reiner started to have trouble seeing, eventually losing his vision.

"We went to Omaha and had an MRI and the MRI showed that there was some atrophy in the back of his brain," said the doctor's wife, Lori. "We got the diagnosis in May that the problems with vision were stemming from Alzheimer's Disease."

The doctor made a difficult decision to stop practicing.

"It was terrible. It crushed me," said Dr. Reiner.

"Richard has always been an amazing caregiver," said Lori. "The moment that he found out that he might not be able to provide the kind of care to his patients, he immediately stopped and just said, 'I can't put anybody at risk.' I think that was a pretty admirable thing to do, continuing to take care of his patients even when he couldn't actually be there for them. I have so much respect for him for that, because that was a tough day. That was a tough day."

Following the diagnosis, the couple said they had to completely change their lives.

"You can imagine the chaos that we went through for a couple months," said Lori. "It was pretty rough." Dr. Reiner agreed.

"But we've landed on this side of things now and we do a pretty good job of living day-to-day." Lori added.

For now, they said the biggest issue for Dr. Reiner is vision, but his memory is starting to be impacted too.

"This disease is interesting," said Lori. "I mean you tell me stories about things that have happened years ago. It's just more recent things that are more difficult."

According to the Alzheimer's Association, with the disease being the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and with no cure or prevention, the family said they're embracing their time together and they encourage everyone impacted by the disease to do that same.

"Just live in what you have right now because today's the best day that you're ever going to have," said Lori. "You celebrate that and you enjoy it and find things to laugh about and find things to connect with."

Dr. Reiner is not alone. According to the Alzheimer's Association, 5 million Americans are living with the disease - one of many reasons people locally are walking.

"The walk is important because it brings recognition and awareness that we have people right here that are just like us," said Lori. "They're living with the disease."

The Walk to End Alzheimer's raises funds used for research and development to hopefully one day find a treatment to slow or maybe even cure the disease.

The Kearney walk is Sunday, September 16 at Yanney Park.

For more information, and to register to walk, click here.

To follow this story and all of Jessica Stevenson's local news coverage, find her on facebook and twitter.

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