Former Rep. Maurice Hinchey’s family announced that the congressman has Frontotemporal dementia, a disease that causes nerve cell damage and leads to loss of function in brain regions.
The New York Democrat was diagnosed with the disease known as FTD after a successful battle with colon cancer.
“We decided to publicly share what is happening, particularly in light of what is going on in Washington in terms of healthcare reductions which would effectively make it almost impossible for the average family to secure the essential longterm care required for this type of illness,” the family said in a statement.
FTD can cause deterioration in personality, language or motor functions and requires serious care.
The congressman’s symptoms began with an occasional lost word and now has symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease, like difficultly walking and balancing.
Hinchey retired from Congress in 2013 after a 20-year career and moved back to New York’s Hudson Valley. He started his political career in the New York State Assembly in 1974.
“Knowing Maurice and his heartfelt desire to always help others, we know he would want to do everything possible to help raise awareness of this debilitating and terminal disease,” his wife, Ilene Marder Hinchey, said. “We strongly support additional federal and private funding for research to treat and eventually cure FTD, and we support additional resources to help families care for their loved ones at home on a long-term basis.”
It affects over 55,000 Americans “but lacks sufficient research,” according to the family.
Hinchey was elected to Congress in 1992 and was on the Appropriations Committee.