‘There was an excitement:’ Hilton Head woman considering new Alzheimer’s drug

Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 5:05 PM EDT
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HILTON HEAD ISLAND, Sc. (WTOC) - In the last month, a breakthrough Alzheimer’s drug has been fully approved by the FDA and Medicare bringing varying levels of hope to the estimated 6.7 million Americans living with the disease.

Inside one Hilton Head home, the most important currency is time.

There’s a clock at every turn, keeping track of each second that’s become more important than ever since a diagnosis three years ago.

“If we could just press pause like on a cassette tape and my wife was at the level of ability she’s at right now for the rest of her life, I would be thrilled to death,” said Doug Wall.

At the age of 57, his wife Claudia is fighting early onset Alzheimer’s every second of every day.

She’s working to keep her brain sharp with puzzles while a ruthless disease attacks it from within taking a toll on her emotions and abilities.

“All of a sudden I just can’t find words,” said Claudia Wall.

Her husband of over 30 years says she has no problem doing 95% of the things in life, like walking and enjoying the outdoors. Each step forward is Claudia fighting, keeping her body as healthy as it can be but there’s only so much families like the Walls can do beyond medicine.

That’s why the recent FDA and Medicare approval of Leqembi is crucial.

“This is the first what we hope will be many Alzheimer’s drugs that can change the progression of the disease and actually slow it down,” said Beth Sulkowski, the V.P. of Communications for the Alzheimer’s Association S.C. Chapter.

The Walls have tried and are trying a number of treatments, including infusions like Leqembi would be. They say the feelings that come with drug developments are about as complex as the medications themselves.

“On my end there was an excitement. I think on my wife’s end there was some excitement, but you’re remembering on the last treatment there was swelling of the brain.”

Even with the potential return of that side affect, they’re seriously considering the medication especially at the discounted rate that comes with Medicare approval.

“The initial cost looks to be $20,000-$30,000 a year, but maybe 10-15% of that would be our cost after Medicare.”

They say that brings this treatment closer to reality and importantly, could bring more time to their family.