National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month draws to a close as hope for progress in understanding and treating the disease looms on the immediate horizon.
Iowans could see new medical treatments on the market in the next 12 to 18 months. The treatments are in the final stages of clinical trials and could be particularly useful for people suffering from dementia praecox or Alzheimer’s disease.
Lauren Livingston, Iowa chapter communications director for the Alzheimer’s Association, said the number of Iowans with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia has risen to 66,000.
“And on top of that, you have to think about all those people who are taking care of them, their family and their friends,” Livingston pointed out. “More than 73,000 people are helping to care for people living with the disease.”
Livingston noted that caregivers often face more difficult health issues than the person living with the disease, because caregivers spend so many hours caring for their loved one that they often give up on their own health. Livingston pointed to a surge in funding for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia research as reason for hope that there will soon be more effective treatments.
The National Institutes of Health is investing nearly $4 billion in research into Alzheimer’s disease and other related diseases, a sharp increase from $50 million just a decade ago.
Livingston said the Alzheimer’s Association is also investing heavily, but admits progress in treating the disease can seem slow.
“Alzheimer’s disease has only really been recognized in the last few decades,” added. “It also helps because it hasn’t been studied or looked at for as long as other diseases like cancer and heart disease.”
Livingston pointed out that three new treatments are expected to receive Food and Drug Administration approval in less than a year.
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