ADA, Mich. — A family in Ada is hopeful after the FDA approved the first new Alzheimer’s treatment in nearly two decades and the first to attack the disease’s process.
“My dad’s birthday is in a few days and this month we think about him and reflect on him a lot,” said Dawn Hoiem. “To have this news come out now, it’s a gift. It really is.”
In 2014, Hoiem’s father, Bill Garner, died from Alzheimer’s disease.
“There’s so many terrible diseases out there, but Alzheimer’s steals something that is so different,” said Hoiem. “You think, ‘Well, I’ll always have my memories, they can’t take away my memories,’ I mean that’s something that we say and it’s not true.”
According to Hoiem, her father’s diagnosis came eight years before his death, but the family noticed signs, like memory loss, up to two years before it. Three of Garner’s six siblings and numerous cousins have also been diagnosed it.
Hoiem says they cared for him the best they could, but eventually moved him into an assisted living facility.
“An Alzheimer’s diagnosis was a diagnosis that was voided of any hope,” said Hoiem.
A long, difficult experience, Dawn believes the new medication, at the least, will be able to ease the emotional journey tied to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
“Maybe their path will not look like mine and look like my family’s,” said Hoiem. “[Maybe] it will be different and they’ll be able to hold onto their loved one and their ability to be really active in life a lot longer than we were able to.”
However, she’s holding out hope it gives and even bigger gift.
“Hopefully the next step is, ‘Let’s go find a cure,’” said Hoiem. “We’ve checked one of the boxes. There’s two more to go - prevention and cure.”
The Michigan Alzheimer’s Association chapter is urging people to get tested for the disease early on, since the drug will be geared toward people recently diagnosed. According to the organization, 190,000 people in Michigan are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but it’s not know how many patients will be able to use the new drug.
Registration for its annual walk in Grand Rapids in October is open.
The money raised at events like it help fund research for the disease.
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