June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month

Blue forget-me-nots are the flowers associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is a name that most of us are familiar with, whether it is through first-hand experience, helping a loved one manage the disease or through media.

It is a cognitive disease that affects roughly 1 in 9 individuals. The name is coined by the German neuroanatomist Alios Alzheimer, who is credited with identifying the first published case of this disease in 1906. AD (Alzheimer’s Disease) has been around throughout human history, but has only been properly studied in more recent years.

AD is characterised by a progressive decline in the cognitive, physical and social functioning of individuals. People with early onset AD will find that their memory is first to deteriorate. Small things such as appointments, phone numbers and addresses are easily forgotten, and as AD progresses, individuals start to lose track of the time of day, have trouble remembering recent and past events and forget who they are. Interestingly, research has shown that even though details of an event may be forgotten, the emotions of the experience still continue.

This is in fact a great month for Alzheimer’s Awareness as the FDA has just recently approved the use of a new breakthrough drug that has shown evidence of reducing the symptoms of AD instead of just managing them.

“The drug, aducanumab, which will go by the brand name Aduhelm, is a monthly intravenous infusion intended to slow cognitive decline in people with mild memory and thinking problems. It is the first approved treatment to attack the disease process of Alzheimer’s instead of just addressing dementia symptoms.” – The New York Times (7 June 2021)

This is great news, however, this breakthrough drug is not without controversy. The clinical trials done during the past few years have provided incomplete evidence for its effectiveness. The FDA, although already approved the use of Aduhelm, has required that Biogen (the company responsible for the manufacturing of the drug) must conduct a new trial.

While we wait with high hopes as Aduhelm reaches the lives of many individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, let us just take a moment to acknowledge this massive landmark for the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease. It is incredible what we are able to achieve with today’s technology and knowledge and it has given millions of people hope for their futures.

If you would like to find out more about living with Alzheimer’s or feel that you could use some extra support for yourself or a loved one, please give us a call on 087 654 3177 or pop into our RezCare Lounge at 85 Main Road, Fish Hoek. We are here to assist you.

Movies depicting Alzheimer’s

Still Alice – 2014 – Linguistic professor Dr Alice Howland gets the shock of her life at the age of 50 when she tests positive for an early onset of familial Alzheimer’s Disease.

Away From Her – 2006 – A story about Fiona and Grant who are a happily married couple for 40 years and are forced to part ways because of Fiona’s Alzheimer Disease.

The Father – 2020 – A man refuses all assistance from his daughter as he ages. As he tries to make sense of his changing circumstances, he begins to doubt his loved ones, his own mind and even the fabric of his reality.

Books written with Alzheimer’s in mind

  • And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman
  • Still Alice by Lisa Genova
  • Ten Thousand Joys & Ten Thousand Sorrows: A Couple’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s by Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle