Frank and Juanita of Miami have been through a lifetime of ups and downs during their 60 years of marriage, but they never expected the devastation of Alzheimer’s disease.
After 80-year-old Juanita was diagnosed with the incurable, memory-robbing illness, the couple turned to clinical trials for a possible solution.
They found hope at Miami Jewish Health in research that may someday point the way to a cure. Juanita is enrolled in one of a dozen or so ongoing clinical trials for Alzheimer’s at the renowned Miami healthcare facility.
“It gives us hope but it will also benefit other folks who are suffering from the same issue,” Frank said.
The answer is research
Juanita’s short-term memory is fading and sometimes she’s agitated. Frank hopes the knowledge gained from the clinical trial she’s enrolled in will someday change the future for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It’s what keeps him feeling positive.
Marc E. Agronin, M.D., a geriatric psychiatrist and Alzheimer’s expert, who runs the Memory and Research Center at Miami Jewish Health, believes research is the only answer.
“The only way we will find an effective treatment or cure for Alzheimer’s disease is through clinical trials. There is no other route,” said Agronin, who’s written multiple books on the complexities of aging including “The End of Old Age.” “It’s critically important for there to be the ongoing development of multiple research pathways to try to treat Alzheimer’s disease, but we also need a willing pool of individuals with Alzheimer’s to volunteer as subjects.”
Clinical trial participants already have access to caregiver support groups, brain fitness training, a social club and mental health treatment on site, Agronin noted.
“We offer one-stop shopping. From evaluation to comprehensive management to support,” Agronin said.
“There is a lot of promise on the horizon and we are hoping that, with continued participation with people in studies, we will have a breakthrough,” added Ricardo Castañeda, PharmD, the facility’s director of clinical research.
Miami Jewish Health is especially ideal for clinical trials because the healthcare facility is on the verge of building the first-of-its-kind village environment in the United States for individuals with dementia. Construction of The S. Donald Sussman EmpathiCare Village will start in 2020, highlighting the need for a cure.
Offering hope for the future
“The great purpose is we are trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. We are trying to advance the science and hopefully get to a cure or at least something that halts it, which we don’t currently have,” Castañeda said.
Juanita and Frank taught school for more than 60 years combined, parented a boy and a girl and are now grandparents with two great grandchildren on the way. Alzheimer’s runs on both sides of their family, so finding a cure may also benefit their descendants.
“There’s a lot of people who are afraid of studies but I look at it to do something positive for Juanita,” Frank said. “I know 50 years ago there were many diseases that were killing us. Through these studies, we are living longer.”
Richard Isaacson, M.D., a neurologist and director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York Presbyterian, believes all patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and those at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, should participate in clinical trials. The reason? Hope and optimism.
“Just because we don’t have a cure today doesn’t mean we are not going to have a preventative therapy or cure tomorrow. The only way we can find these treatments is to have people participate in clinical trials,” Isaacson said.
Do you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, or are you 50 years or older and at risk for developing the disease? Call 305 795 8446 for information on our clinical trials.