Former Congressman Maurice Hinchey's family says he has a disease called "frontotemporal degeneration," a type of dementia.

According to the Daily Freeman of Kingston, the announcement came in a news release issued Tuesday by Ilene Marder, Hinchey's wife.

Hinchey, who is 78, lives in Ulster County. The Democrat retired from the House of Representatives in January 2013 after serving two decades in Congress.

In her statement, Marder said the family had been receiving calls "from all over the region and the country" inquiring about her husband.

Marder said Hinchey has been living with the diagnosis since he was treated for colon cancer in 2011. She said the symptoms started as "the occasional lost word" and eventually began to "affect his eloquent language skills."

Hinchey's first election victory came in 1974 when he won a seat in the New York State Assembly. He won election to Congress in 1992.

Congressman Maurice Hinchey started his "farewell tour" in Binghamton on December 12, 2012. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)

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