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The FDA could approve a new drug to treat Alzheimer's disease

Mary Helen Ortiz shares her story as a caretaker
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Posted at 10:28 AM, Jan 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-06 11:30:04-05

2022 was a productive and promising year for Alzheimer’s research, including discoveries related to the causes, risk factors and treatment of the disease and other dementias.

On Friday January 6, the FDA is expected to announce the approval of a new Alzheimer's drug called lecanemab, which is used to treat the early stages of the disease by slowing down the loss of cognitive impartment.

Being a caretaker for someone who has Alzheimer’s is a full time job itself. Mary Helen Ortiz said her and her siblings have been taking care of their mother Graciela Perez for about four years now. Since taking care of their mother, Ortiz said they make sure she is cared for 24/7.

I mean we prepare her food, we prepare her meds, help her eat, dress her, clean her,whatever she needs we are there for her," Ortiz said.

She said her mother has someone to take care of her in the morning and afternoon so they are able to go to work during the day. Having family support, and respite care, makes it easier.

“Without the it be very hard for one person. And mother deserves to you know be taken care of, she took care of us and now it is our turn," Ortiz said.

But for her the hardest part of taking care of her mom, “to see her slowly decreasing, going down. I miss her talking and her involvement. She was a very active person," she said.

Ortiz said her mother is on donepezil, which prolongs the Alzheimer's process. She said she couldn’t speak on the new drug lecanemab.

But if approved by the FDA, “that would be wonderful. And if it could be affordable, that would be even better," said Ortiz.

Ginny Funk, the director of programs for Alzheimer's Association,said they are excited for the new drug and its effects . If approved by the FDA, Funk says the next step is making it more affordable to patients and their families.

“There are many steps to then make it accessible to where you know one of our loved ones could go in and actually receive this treatment," Funk said.

Ortiz said for those who are taking care of their loved ones who may have the disease to be there for them and to always talk to them.