It can be devastating nd heartbreaking to see when a loved one begins to experience symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
Early symptoms of the disease include difficulty speaking or finding the right words, behavioral changes, and difficulty with day-to-day tasks like getting dressed. And while most people know that Alzheimer’s causes memory loss, many don’t know that the disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.
It is estimated by Alzheimer’s NZ —an organization that works to raise awareness of dementia, provide information and resources, advocate for high quality services and promote research about prevention, treatment cure and care —that someone in the world develops dementia every three seconds. Currently there are 50 million people in the world who live with dementia, and by 2050, that number is expected to reach nearly 132 million.
The month of June marks “Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month” and a time to help raise awareness about the disease while showing support for those who live with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Throughout the month, the Alzheimer’s Association encouraged people to wear purple and raise awareness about the disease.
Earlier this month, encouraging news in the fight against Alzheimer’s surfaced when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Aduhelm for the treatment of Alzheimer’s. The FDA described Aduhelm as a first-of-its-kind treatment for Alzheimer’s, and studies have shown that patients receiving the treatment had significant dose-and-time dependent reduction of amyloid beta plaque — a main characteristic of the brain with Alzheimer’s. While clinical trials are encouraging, the FDA’s website says studies left residual uncertainties regarding clinical benefit.
Aduhelm is the first new treatment approved for Alzheimer’s since 2003 and is the first therapy that targets the fundamental pathophysiology of the disease, the FDA said in a release earlier this month. Biogen, the treatment’s manufacturer, said the price for Aduhelm will be $56,000. Since the disease mainly affects older people, most costs are expected to fall to Medicare’s Part B program. However, Medicare has not said how it would cover the treatment and its associated costs.
“Alzheimer’s disease is a devastating illness that can have a profound impact on the lives of people diagnosed with the disease as well as their loved ones,” said Patrizia Cavazzoni, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Currently available therapies only treat symptoms of the disease; this treatment option is the first therapy to target and affect the underlying disease process of Alzheimer’s. As we have learned from the fight against cancer, the accelerated approval pathway can bring therapies to patients faster while spurring more research and innovation.”
Those who are interested in supporting the Alzheimer’s Association can donate to it at alz.org. You can also volunteer for community representative, program tech support and other positions within the organization at www.alz.org/get-involved-now/volunteer.