NHL and Red Wing Legend Gordie Howe Does Not Have Dementia, Says Son

J Cook@JCookBRCorrespondent IFebruary 4, 2012

NHL legend, Gordie Howe, shakes hands with admirers during a recent public event.
NHL legend, Gordie Howe, shakes hands with admirers during a recent public event.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It seems there is some confusion about the current state of health of Red Wing hockey hero Gordie Howe.

Clarification was reported yesterday to ensure that Howe's fans knew the truth. 

Marty Howe, Mr. Hockey's son, spoke to the media on Friday and indicated that his father was having some memory issues but was not suffering from dementia, the disease that killed Howe's wife, Colleen, at age 76 in 2009. Colleen died from a rare form of dementia known as Pick's disease. Pick's disease is marked by changes in mood, behavior and personality, followed by memory loss similar to that experienced in Alzheimer's.

What Howe is suffering from is "mild cognitive impairment."

"If you see him now, obviously you can kind of tell he's not firing on all cylinders. Most people see Gordie and they're just happy Gordie is talking to them," Marty stated

However, mild cognitive impairment is not dementia and Marty set out on Friday to clear up any misconceptions about his father's health condition."It's really not dementia," said Marty, responding to a pair of stories published Thursday about Gordie's memory loss and difficulty in speaking at times (via Vancouver Sun).

By Friday morning, Marty had enough of the nonsense after reading blogs and posts across the Internet stating that his family indicated their father had dementia, when in fact he did not. 

"It's not that something might happen later but, right now, he definitely doesn't have it and hopefully he never does," Marty continued. "Someone was blogging it to everybody and it made my life a living hell today. So to just try and clear it up, Gordie is going to be with us a long time and he's still going to be able to function."

For fans, this should clear up the confusion from previous reports. It should also leave them with peace of mind that one of hockey's greatest hasn't watched the puck drop for the last time, as might have been the concern after Thursday's false reports.

Dementia is a condition that affects memory and thinking to the extent that it interferes with normal daily activities. About 3.5 million Americans age 71 years or older have dementia. However, some older individuals suffer from mild cognitive problems without actually having a medical diagnosis of dementia. Mild cognitive impairment can affect attention, language, judgment, memory, reading or writing. It may be noticeable to the individual or to other people, but it does not severely impair activities of daily living.

Even with these bouts of grasping for words and slight memory loss, Howe continues to readily recognize family and endures with his outward personality. He'll be traveling across Canada this year again on his caravan to raise funds and awareness for dementia, a cause he obviously holds dear to his heart. Howe has not withered from his decline; rather, he has shown the same resilience he did during his 33 years as a professional hockey player. You can knock Mr. Hockey down, but he's going to get right back up and fight. Clearly, he hasn't given up any of his fight for life.

Howe is scheduled to attend Thursday night's Vancouver Canucks game against the Detroit Red Wings in Vancouver to promote a pro-am tournament later this year in Vancouver.