The bond between Ollie and Vernie Doolittle has endured though 60 years of marriage and military service during two wars. They still never go to bed angry (most of the time).
So when Ollie was diagnosed with memory problems that can progress to Alzheimer’s disease, as usual they resolved to meet the challenge together.
Doctors recommended physical and mental activity to support brain health – so 81-year-old Ollie still plays on three softball teams. Social and emotional engagement also help, and the couple fills their social calendar with friends, church and charity fundraisers.
Ollie and Vernie also fight back against memory loss in another way – by helping others at risk of similar problems.
By participating in a multiyear study at the UC Davis Alzheimer's Center, they aid researchers who investigate the aging brain in hopes of finding improved methods of diagnosis and treatment.
"The Doolittles are helping society as a whole by contributing to a major research study of dementia," said William Seavey, a geriatrician on the center’s research staff who works with the couple.
"I draw inspiration from their courage and their willingness to share of their lives so that others might benefit."
The miniature fingers of a two-months-premature baby wrap around the seemingly large thumb of UC Davis volunteer donor Jim Donoghue.
Donoghue, who never had children of his own, volunteers countless hours at the UC Davis Medical Center Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). For the past two years he has comforted the fragile patients of the Children’s Hospital, sometimes for hours at a time.
Known among the NICU staff as the “baby whisperer,” Donoghue has a remarkable ability to comfort the premature and ill babies receiving care there. When a baby can’t stop crying, parents know they can trust Donoghue to soothe their child.