The Long Good-Bye
Alzheimer’s disease attacks nearly four million people every year. Recent genetic discoveries may better explain why it happens, but what can be done to delay it? Doctors in Seattle may have found one answer.
For 20 years, Howard ran his own civil engineering firm. He spent his life doing math. Now, he struggles to add three numbers.
Howard, has Alzheimer’s:
“I just get confused on what that fourth number is going to be.”
At 59, Alzheimer’s disease has robbed his mind. He’s put notes everywhere to remind him of phone numbers and favorite quotes.
“One day Howard wanted to fix himself a sandwich and he had the cheese and the ham and the bread all laid out, couldn’t put it together.”
Howard and Marli know they can’t reverse the disease. So Howard is part of a study looking at insulin and memory.
Suzanne Craft, Ph.D., neuropsychologist:
“What we’ve been observing is that when we provide insulin to these patients we are able to measurably improve their memory.”
The goal is to delay the disease.
Suzanne Craft, Ph.D.:
“By delaying it as little as five years, you would reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease by almost half.”
Five years for the Edde family is important.
“I keep telling him that I love him every time I see him because I know that someday he won’t be able to understand that.”
“You know when you get married that one day one of you is going to say good-bye to the other one.”
“Alzheimer’s is a disease that’s sometimes been called the long good-bye. And I think that’s about the most appropriate words for the description of the disease.”
The next step in research is to have patients receive insulin continually to see if memory can be enhanced for a longer period of time.