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.
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 long–used type 2 diabetes medicine called Actos (or Pioglitazone).
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 non–existent 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.