10 letters that feel like a life sentence.
We walked slowly together, each step cautious and deliberate until we got to the kitchen island. I tore open the Amazon envelope and pulled out the Tangram Puzzle I had ordered. Dad read the box out loud, “Ages 3-5.” He looked from the box to me and smiled as he shrugged his shoulders. For a man that has forgotten so much, our father seems to well remember that this is quite a step down from designing complex data systems that have orbited the earth, landed on the moon and visited places light-years away. Now, it is his memory that lives beyond the clouds.
The puzzle was delivered on April fool’s day. We laughed about that. Dad may not remember my name, but he remembers our relationship is special and that we make each other laugh. Laughter really is the best medicine, especially when there is no cure. And as of yet, there is not.
Alzheimer’s cases and progression are as individual as the patient. But the disease takes a consistent, progressive, and cumulative toll on the patient and their community. The average Alzheimer’s patient lives four to eight years after diagnosis but can live much longer. Currently, there are more than 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and this number is increasing. The disease is taking a toll and that toll is high.
It is now September 21 and falling is in the air. Throughout spring we enjoyed little walks around the backyard that are no longer possible. Dad’s mind is forgetting how to direct his body. Falling has become routine. Gone is the summer sun that warmed us as we sat on the porch swing, conversing about “projects” that were in process in the remnant portion of his engineering brain. Now, our father talks to people that are not there, and when his eyes are not looking into the faces of the invisible, they are cold and distant.
Winter is creeping in. The last particles of our connection are evaporating. Almost every night of more than 70 years our father has slept beside the sweetheart he found when he was 16. He now sleeps in a care facility with strangers that are just as familiar to him as we have become. His sweetheart sleeps alone. Her dreams are displaced by a statistical nightmare.
In the U.S., Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death.
We are reluctantly nearing the end of what Nancy Reagan called “The Long Goodbye”. If we could, would we keep him longer, in this state? Probably no. We know he must be tired. His life has become a cruel exercise of negotiating the unfamiliar. But earlier, if we could have delayed the onset – stretched it out a bit – reduced decline – so that he slipped away more slowly? Yes. Most definitely, yes.
This is why I am excited that the FDA approved Aduhelm (aducanumab) for Alzheimer’s patient treatment.
“Although the Aduhelm data are complicated with respect to its clinical benefits, FDA has determined that there is substantial evidence that Aduhelm reduces amyloid beta plaques in the brain and that the reduction in these plaques is reasonably likely to predict important benefits to patients. As a result of FDA’s approval of Aduhelm, patients with Alzheimer’s disease have an important and critical new treatment to help combat this disease.
This approval is significant in many ways. Aduhelm is the first novel therapy approved for Alzheimer’s disease since 2003. Perhaps more significantly, Aduhelm is the first treatment directed at the underlying pathophysiology of Alzheimer’s disease, the presence of amyloid beta plaques in the brain. The clinical trials for Aduhelm were the first to show that a reduction in these plaques—a hallmark finding in the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s—is expected to lead to a reduction in the clinical decline of this devastating form of dementia.” – fda.gov
I hope aducanumab is the ten-letter word that gives you hope.
I am grateful to the FDA for their commitment to exploring the full benefits of Aduhelm and for shining a light into the shadows of the families experiencing the grief of Alzheimer’s decline. And I am grateful for the providers that have stepped up to the plate to make this therapy conveniently available to Alzheimer’s patients.
Are you or someone you know suffering from Alzheimer’s? Ask your doctor about aducanumab and let them know MPP Infusion Centers® is offering this therapy at our MPP Infusion locations, where IV therapy is administered by certified medical personnel for patients with prescribed medical approval. Our professional staff have experience with a wide range of diagnoses and are certified to administer treatment as prescribed. Our modern centers are designed to be welcoming and comfortable. We look forward to welcoming YOU.
“WORLD ALZHEIMER’S DAY 2021. SUPPORT. AWARENESS. SOLIDARITY.”