Alzheimer’s disease progress has been slow, much to the frustration of the millions of Americans who suffer from the disease as well as their families. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recently pledged a draft to try to “prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s disease by 2025” — A welcome undertaking in both the medical community and for the dementia care patients and families suffering with this staggering illness.
Alzheimer’s disease is a type of dementia that creates issues with memory, thinking and behavior. According to the DHHS plan, scientific research is going to start in the preventative phase of the disease, aiming to treat the early stages of the disease by identifying presymptomatic stages of the illness and then working with both international and private entities to conduct research. The goal of eliminating the illness by 2025 is quite aggressive, but dementia care facilities, doctors and patients are remaining optimistic.
“I think there is more awareness now about dementia care and Alzheimer’s disease,” says Libby Connally, regional director of the Alzheimer’s Association’s North Central Texas Chapter. “It’s finally coming out of the closet, so to speak. It’s something that people have been aware of because of their own family members, but they don’t want to talk about it.”
Alzheimer’s disease was first diagnosed publicly in 1906 and progress began to be made in 1970, which eventually led to the first approved Alzheimer’s medication. However, this medicine didn’t become available to dementia care patients until about 1990.
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So why has Alzheimer, dementia and memory care progress taken so long? Typically the answer has been that molecular biology improvements and findings are just beginning to skim the surface in regards to understanding this disease. Samuel Brinkman, an Abilene neuropsychologist discusses dementia care and Alzheimer’s disease research: “The more we have learned, the more we have learned we don’t know. But understanding the molecular pathology in the last 10 years has skyrocketed, giving scientists reasonable hypotheses for treatment.”
So for all you people suffering from your loved one’s erratic behavior, there is hope. Accepting that this behavior is the disease, not the individual, helps. But between the government’s goal to wipe out the disease, in tandem with memory exercises and dementia and memory care facilities available, there are improvements. And you are not alone. Sure—there’s a long way to go. But at least strides are being made to improve dementia care and cure Alzheimer’s disease.