Caretakers, families, and loved ones deal with the pain of Alzheimer’s disease every day. And while there is no cure, the FDA has approved a new medication intended to slow its progression. But there are still a lot of unanswered questions. Here’s what you need to know about the new drug:

What is Alzheimer’s disease?

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia. It often begins with minor memory loss, such as misplacing items, difficulty carrying out a conversation, or confusion about time and place. Unfortunately, it is a progressive disease, with symptoms becoming more and more difficult as the disease progresses. A reported 6.2 million Americans and 30 million people worldwide are living with Alzheimer’s disease.

How and for whom does this drug work?

Although there is still no cure for Alzheimer’s, the FDA has recently approved a medication called Aduhelm (aducanumab). This medication is the first in its class to reduce the progression of patients in the early stages. Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by changes in the brain, specifically amyloid beta plaque. The medication, given by an intravenous infusion, is designed to target amyloid beta plaque and reduce it. The hope is that the reduced plaque will allow patients to improve or retain thinking, memory, function, and behaviors.

How does this affect the Senior Living community?

The senior living community is hopeful yet cautious about the new medication. As our own Valerie Whitman, VP of Senior Living, says, “seeing the struggle so many families have endured with the loss of loved ones to dementia, I’m cautiously optimistic with this new medication possibly providing a better quality of life for suffers.” Concerns about the cost, effectiveness, and long-term effects of the medication will continue until more studies have been completed. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions. And time will tell how this medication works for newly diagnosed patients. The miracles of scientific invention never cease. And like so many, we hope that this new medication will be a way for the people living with Alzheimer’s disease and their families to find relief. Learn more about how LeadingResponse supports senior living communities.