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Key Milestones Reached in 2023 for Dementia Research, Treatments Announced 

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released its roadmap for combating Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia in the coming years as the number of people living with cognitive changes continues to grow.

The latest national plan to address Alzheimer’s and other dementias outlines six goals for reducing cognitive illnesses, including:

  • Preventing and treating Alzheimer’s and related dementias by 2025
  • Enhancing quality of care; expanding support for people living with dementia and their families
  • Enhancing public awareness and engagement
  • Improving data collection
  • Accelerating actions to support healthy aging and reducing dementia risk factors

A dementia diagnosis typically comes with staggering costs for older adults and their families, with caregiving for a person with dementia in the last five years of life being $287,000 based on figures reported in 2020, and are significantly higher than a person with heart disease at $175,000 or cancer at $173,000. Those with dementia are hospitalized two to three times as often as people the same age without a dementia diagnosis.

As the number of chronic conditions managed by assisted living residents increases in recent years, estimates based on national data shows that nearly seven out of ten residents in assisted living settings have some form of cognitive impairment.

“These diseases will place a major strain on public and private health care providers,” the report states.

Last year the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved pharmaceutical drug Lecanemab for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, which follows other drugs being approved last year and in 2021. This progress shows the decades of research needed to effectively treat dementia. But more research is needed to identify and test other pharmaceuticals to treat dementia, the report notes.

A large step for accessing dementia care came in April of 2022 when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it would cover monoclonal antibody treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. In July, CMS announced the Guiding an Improved Dementia Experience (GUIDE) model that aims to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia and reduce strain on caregivers. CMS is recruiting participants for the GUIDE model currently.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held the inaugural National Summit on Dementia Risk Reduction last year.

“Ensuring equitable access to this new treatment as well as future therapies currently in development will require changes in the health care system to ensure people are diagnosed early in the disease process,” the report added.

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