Right now in the United States, the cost of care for Alzheimer’s is a quarter of a trillion dollars. Couple that with the fast-growing number of people living with Alzheimer’s, not just today, but over the next several years and it will be a catastrophic situation. This is why funding Alzheimer’s and dementia research is critical in changing this course.
Atlanta couple Heather and Bill ten Broeke understand the financial, physical, and emotional strain of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. Bill’s father Hank lived with the early stages of Alzheimer’s for several years before he and Bill’s mother Judy moved into Heather and Bill’s home in 2017. Not long after, in honor of Hank, Heather participated in the 2018 Dancing Stars of Atlanta where she won the coveted People’s Choice Award for raising the most money – over $160,000. Since the event, the ten Broekes have been major sponsors of Dancing Stars of Atlanta, which funds care, support, and research programs for the Alzheimer’s Association.
As Bill’s father’s condition worsened, the family knew that they needed additional support. Heather, Bill, and Judy went through the rigorous and difficult process of trying to find the right caregivers. Like most people in advanced stages of Alzheimer’s, Hank needed round the clock assistance. Depending on the level needed, the cost of it for people living with Alzheimer’s can approach $100,000 a year for nursing care in a facility. For families like the ten Broekes, who preferred to have their loved one cared for in their home, it can range from $150,000 to $200,000 a year for 24 hour care. “My Mom had a background in nursing and did an unbelievable job of caring for my father, but at some point, most people with Alzheimer’s will need additional, professional help. Unfortunately, the vast majority of families out there never anticipated the high cost that they needed to plan for and simply cannot afford it.” Hank passed away in May 2019.
In addition to the high cost of care, there is a huge challenge with respect to having the number of qualified, compassionate professionals needed to care for Alzheimer’s patients. “Providing care is not always an easy task and it takes a certain type of person to do their job. It is already a difficult situation for the family to see their loved ones going through the disease. Then to add the concern that care is not up to the standards you want, no matter what you spend, makes things much more difficult.” With this realization, along with the hope to reach a point where other families wouldn’t have to go through what they did, the ten Broeke’s decided to turn their focus to research in order to find a treatment and a cure.
Making a real impact on this disease was the main driver in the ten Broeke’s decision to make a significant research gift from the ten Broeke Family Foundation. Private Wealth Management firm CIBC, headed by Jack Markwalter, Jr, teamed up with the ten Broekes to support research by the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network Trials Unit (DIAN-TU), in a groundbreaking prevention study. “We want to make the greatest impact with our gift and after talking to the researchers from the DIAN-TU study, we knew this had great promise in the fight against the disease.”
Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Disease (DIAD) is a rare, inherited, typically younger-onset form of Alzheimer’s that is caused by mutations on chromosomes 21, 14 and 1. The mutations play a role in the breakdown of amyloid proteins and the formation of amyloid plaques. DIAN-TU is a clinical trial with a special design that allows the researchers to add or modify investigational treatments in accordance with new findings and, when appropriate, transition to a Phase III trial, potentially saving years in drug testing. DIAN-TU is also primed to implement and test anti-amyloid and anti-tau therapies in combination if data indicate they are promising.
The strategy is to discover drugs that can stop the accumulation of abnormal Tau protein in the brain that is a hallmark of all forms of Alzheimer’s. The Tau tangles are also associated with other neurodegenerative disorders such as frontotemporal dementia, Parkinson’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies and more. Being able to develop a treatment that works for those with DIAD could provide the foundation for the development of treatments and prevention for all people at risk of Alzheimer’s including the more traditional form that Hank suffered from. “We felt that something more was needed to be done to treat or cure this disease because it is not getting better, it is getting worse, and it is a national crisis. We are doing this for future generations and for our children”.
“We are incredibly grateful for the ten Broeke family, added Linda Davidson, Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter. “Research is our ticket out of this disease and the more dollars donated towards it, the quicker we get to ending it”, added Davidson.
Alzheimer’s Association is the largest non-profit funder of research in the world, with over $250 million to more than 750 projects in 39 countries. To learn more about current Alzheimer’s research, and how you can make an impact, visit https://www.alz.org/research.