"I'm honoring my mom by participating in a research study"

Released: Friday, June 09, 2017

At first, Mae McGuffery thought her mother was too young for Alzheimer's disease. At 68, she was living an active and vibrant life. But McGuffery's mother began to experience more trouble remembering things she'd always recalled easily. McGuffery grew increasingly concerned about her mother's health and took her to the doctor, where she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

"It wasn't always easy," McGuffery said. "My brother and I took care of my mother for 14 years. But love rules all, and that's how we got through it."

Now, McGuffery has found a special way to honor her mother: by participating in a research study aimed at preventing Alzheimer's disease.

The rrAD (Reducing the Risk for Alzheimer's Disease) study is evaluating whether the risk of developing dementia can be lowered through exercise, blood pressure medications or a combination of both. The study is underway at four sites around the nation, including LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

As a study participant, McGuffery receives a membership at the YMCA at no cost, where she exercises regularly as part of the study. Additionally, Pennington Biomedical provides McGuffery with blood pressure medications at no cost to her in an effort to help control her blood pressure.

"The idea is that what's good for the heart is what's good for the brain," said Dr. Jeff Keller, director of Pennington Biomedical's Institute for Dementia Research and Prevention. "We think that by doing those things that are good for your heart, like keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level and getting regular exercise, you can keep your brain healthy longer, too."

There are currently no FDA-approved medications on the market today that cure Alzheimer's disease or dementia, which is why studies focused on prevention are so important, explained Keller.

"I have two daughters and two grandchildren, and I hope my participation in this study helps them one day on down the line," McGuffery said. "I am hopeful that I can help impact future generations."

To learn more about the rrAD research study and how you or your loved one can participate, visit or call 225-763-2973.

For more information on how you can support this and other projects at LSU’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center, visit