Justice O'Connor addresses full house at Alzheimer's hearing

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Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
The Senate Special Committee on Aging played host to two high-profile witnesses this week at a hearing on Alzheimer's that drew an enormous crowd.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, spoke before the committee. O'Connor shared her experience as a caregiver to her husband, John, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 1990. She left the court as a result of his illness. The packed house paid close attention to all the witness' testimony, but was especially rapt by Justice O'Connor, according to National Public Radio.

She called for the expansion of clinical and research efforts to improve diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer's; emphasizing prevention and early diagnosis; open communication between researchers in real time, as opposed to waiting months for studies to be published; a renewed national commitment to public investment in developing new treatments; and improved support for those with Alzheimer's and their caregivers.

"I don't believe I've ever witnessed as many people at a hearing in the five, six years that I've been in the United States Senate," said Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) of the proceedings.