Texoma man battles Alzheimer's disease in a crafty way

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SHERMAN, Texas (KXII) - "These will loosen but it's a base that will get it started," says Gary Smithers.

Smithers says he works in his shed everyday.

"I design it on paper first and I look at it and see the dimensions and figured I'll go cut the wood out," says Smithers.

Three years ago, Smithers says he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

"Well I am taking medicine to keep me normal (laughs) well that's relative," says Smithers.

He says alzheimers slowly destroys his memory and makes it harder for his brain to communicate with his body. Although he takes medicine to help slow down the disease, he found a crafty way to keep his mind sharp, by building birdhouses.

"And open up and you see I've got a ladder and some screens," says Smithers.

"I have some weird requests like 'can you make me a dog birdhouse,' I said 'a dog birdhouse?' Umm sure, I'll give it a shot," says Smithers.

Smithers says he's built close to 100 birdhouses and sells them.

"I have to do a lot of thinking (laughs) that's not saying much for me," says Smithers. "I have to do a lot of thinking to get the process right, get all the pieces together and that helps a lot."

"You can't just depend on medicines," says neurologist Dr. Easwar Sundaram, Jr. M.D.

Dr. Sundaram, Jr. says research shows physical, mental and social activity helps slow down this progressive disease.

"It's one of the things that keeps his brain busy it's helps physically and cognitive mental exercises too and those two are very important," says Dr. Sundaram, Jr.

While the world's best minds continue to work on a cure for Alzheimer's.

"It's going to have the name and fleur de lis and a tractor over here," says Smithers.

Smithers says he'll keep building birdhouses.

"When they tell me a bird goes into their house that makes it even better," says Smithers.

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