PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — The pandemic is impacting those with Alzheimer’s getting treatment along with clinical trials to help beat the disease.
“The disease doesn’t care that there’s a pandemic,” said Dr. Anna Burke, the director of the Alzheimer’s and Memory Disorders Program at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix.
Since older people are more at risk of getting severe COVID-19, many are fearful of going into the hospital.
“This has really affected our ability to diagnose dementia, but also to offer individuals appropriate treatments including possible participation in clinical trials,” said Dr. Burke.
This is a problem because doctors can’t reverse the disease and instead can only slow it down.
“The earlier we can get individuals in the course of their illness, the more we can do we can keep them where they are longer. But if they wait to access treatment to get a diagnosis or to be evaluated, they’re losing valuable time,” said Dr. Burke.
Dr. Burke said if your loved one is showing cognitive decline, it’s important they get tested sooner rather than later.
“The earlier you catch this illness, the more we can do. Remember that if we catch this illness early, we can put the brake on, we can keep you where you are much longer,” said Dr. Burke.
COVID-19 shut down some clinical trials at Barrow that help fight the disease, but now they are enrolling again.
“As we’re seeing more and more individuals that are now vaccinated and a little bit more comfortable in coming into the clinic, we’re hoping that they will again become interested in all of these therapies that are being studied,” said Dr. Burke.
These studies help make a difference in what treatments there are to help people suffering from Alzheimer’s.
“We need to be able to search for new therapies. We need to be able to offer patients and families who are struggling with this disease every available option to slow the disease or to potentially help stop it,” said Dr. Burke. “The hope is that in the next five to 10 years, we are actually going to have much better therapies.”
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