A Glimmer of Hope

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Dementia robs so many of hope for the future because currently there are no real medical cures that can turn around your loss of cognitive functioning even in a very small way. You are left to your own devices. There actually seem to be more programs aimed at helping caregivers than programs to help the afflicted.

Jim & Vicki Enjoying Charleston

That is certainly where Jim and I found ourselves in 2014. Jim had been first diagnosed in 2002 and his downward slide had been – thankfully very gradual. Then all of a sudden everything seemed to be falling apart. Jim was totally dependent on me to help him navigate life. He had lost 50 pounds and could no longer talk. For his part, Jim was getting more frustrated and becoming extremely agitated. And it was now hitting home with me that the lack of a cure, or even a partial cure, was going to mean our life as we knew it was effectively over.

This experience is very common. Unfortunately, many people just give up at this point. I was fortunate enough to find an inflammation expert that helped us go down another path: no more total reliance on medicine as the only cure. Diet and lifestyle changes became our focus. However, we did keep in close contact with Jim’s dementia doctor who (in my opinion) is the ultimate dementia medicine expert. Now four years later – finally – there is the slightest glimmer of hope being found in a longused type 2 diabetes medicine called Actos (or Pioglitazone).

Jim’s New Upbeat Mood

In initial studies, people taking Actos showed statistically significant improvement in cognition within 6 months of treatment. While this research is far from complete, it has definitely shown promise as an area of drug development. For this reason, Actos is being rolled out by dementia specialists to non-diabetic dementia patients.

Jim has been taking Actos for about 6 months now. Within a few weeks of starting this medicine, we saw progress. Jim seemed to have a better understanding of what was going on around him. He also has not declined cognitively at all during the 6 months. In addition, there were physical benefits and mood improvements. Perhaps the physical and mood changes are just a coincidence. I don’t know. But Jim got stronger physically – especially going up and down stairs. Jim also started laughing a lot more. This happened one week after the medicine started and has continued to this day. What a joy it is to see Jim laughing again. That was almost nonexistent before.

It just makes sense to me that a medicine that helps the body process sugar could be effective against dementia – since inflammation and sugar are now recognized as contributors to the cognitive decline. So we have decided to continue with Actos for the time being. We have also heard there is a drug trial for a stronger medicine that works like Actos, and we hope to be in the trial.

Now for once dementia patients have encouraging news! We will keep you updated.

24 Responses

  1. What wonderful news Vikki! Thank you for sharing your journey and also the success. What a blessing that Jim’s mood has improved. God is so faithful and you are an incredible wife. Jim’s smile is BEAUTIFUL!

    • Vicki Hafele

      Good to hear from you Nancy. Jim’s mood change is a huge blessing. It was like it came out of the blue. I assume it is associated with taking Actos, but I don’t know that for sure. Thanks for your encouragement!

  2. Jim and Tish Young

    Great news Vicki! Thanks for sharing that with us – it’s encouraging. We continue to pray for Jim and you. So glad that smile and humor has returned!

    Jim and Tish

    • Vicki Hafele

      Jim & Tish – Great to hear from you! And thank you for your prayers. Sure miss seeing you.

  3. Bill Lineberger Sr

    Vickie and Jim, this update was so uplifting and encouraging! We are praising God for the Actos meds that are having such hopeful results!Thank you for blessing me today! Praying for you both, Bill

    • Vicki Hafele

      Thanks for your comments & blessing me today Bill! I do think medicines like Actos – that work on how efficiently we process sugar – have great potential to help dementia patients. I pray so. Unfortunately there have been millions spent on medicines that have not produced any positive results.

  4. Dana Bryan

    Thanks so much for this blog. It has been encouraging to read.

  5. Claire Suter

    This is so exciting! I always read these posts with tears in my eyes, partly from the profound manifestation of your love for Jim, and partly because your trials would have felled a lesser woman. I’m thrilled that you’ve been able to make some steps forward!

    • Vicki Hafele

      Thank you Claire! What a kind comment. And you are right. It is my deep love for Jim that has driven all of this.

  6. Debora Hutchins

    Thank you so much for sending this.

    • Vicki Hafele

      I’m happy to do it Debora! Hope to see you very soon.

  7. Paula D Baker

    Wonderful news Vicky and Jim! My continued prayers for you both. Sure do miss u Vicki, love Paula

    • Vicki Hafele

      Thank you so much for your prayers Paula! Miss you too! You should come by and visit us someday.

  8. Tony Gray

    Vicki, Thanks so much for sharing this positive information. Jim is fortunate to have you loving him & always searching for how best to help him. So good to see him smiling! Praying that God continues to give your strength & courage as He continues to show His grace and love to Jim for each day.

  9. Ron MacPhee

    Vicki – that is FANTASTIC news. You have been a true GOD SEND for Jimmy. You’ve NEVER given up hope. Now there may be hope for the rest of us. Love you guys!

  10. Beth Broadhurst

    Vicky how wonderful it is that you have had these great results with Jim. God Bless your continued efforts. Beth

  11. Stephen

    Sometimes on the road, you turn a curve and right there is a fabulous view!
    Vicki, all my love to you and Jim.

    • Vicki Hafele

      Interesting way to think of it Stephen. Meeting Jim was an unexpected curve with a fabulous view!

  12. You are an amazing person and your love for dad is truly an inspiration. Love you both.

  13. They do call dementia diabetes type 3 now….

  14. Malia Kline

    Way back when we were 30-somethings, the first thing I noticed about your new boyfriend Jim was his magical smile. Seeing it again in these amazing photos made my heart sing. You never cease to amaze me with your devotion and willingness to find new caregiving and treatment solutions for your beloved husband.

    • Vicki Hafele

      I remember that too Malia – that and how over the top good looking Jim was. I tell him now he is the best looking 79 year old man in Charlotte. I’m sure he is. He just smiles.

  15. Jody Ballard

    Jim is so blessed to have you on his “team.” I saw that smile when Daisy visited him.

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