SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease that kills nerve cells and tissue in the brain, affecting an individual’s ability to remember, think, and plan. Ultimately, those with the disease will lose their ability to communicate, recognize family and friends, and care for themselves. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, which is a general term for loss of memory, thinking abilities, behavior, and language. It not only impacts the patient, but also family and friends who often become their full-time caregivers.
Anyone who has a brain is at risk to develop Alzheimer’s, the only medical condition among the leading causes of death that cannot be prevented, cured, or even slowed. That’s according to the Alzheimer’s Association, which estimates that there are approximately 47 million people worldwide who are living with the disease or other forms of dementia. Without any change or progress, experts say these numbers can grow to 76 million by the year 2030.
In honor of Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month, which is observed every year in June, Bonnie Shepard joined ABC4’s Emily Florez for an IN FOCUS discussion on the CW30 News at 7 p.m. She was a primary caregiver for her husband who had dementia and is now a community advocate. She shared what life was like with her husband before he became ill, his diagnosis and the progress of the disease, what was the most difficult about the experience, how taxing it can be to provide support as a caregiver, how being an advocate has helped her in her healing, and what piece of advice she would give to viewers who may find themselves in this position one day.
Ronnie Daniel, the executive director for the Utah chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, discussed aducanumab (aduhelm), a new drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of Alzheimer’s. He talked about what the drug does, whether it can be used in various stages of Alzheimer’s, the success rate, whether it can restore memories and motor functions in later-stage patients, how long until it will be available to patients, what current treatments are available, and where we are in the quest for finding cures and treatments for dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Daniel also discussed the latest data and statistics on Alzheimer’s, whether there are any patterns among the demographics impacted, what’s being done to address the issue of marginalized groups who are facing barriers in treatment, how caregiving can impact someone financially and mentally, and what’s being done for public education during Alzheimer’s Awareness Month.
To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Shepard and Daniel, click on the video at the top of the article.
Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.