General Interest / Senior Living

Alzheimer’s, The Puzzle

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The October 25, 2010 issue of Time Magazine ran a thought-provoking cover story by Alice Park entitled “Alzheimer’s Unlocked.” No, the cure has not yet been found. And no, there still is no 100% definitive method of diagnosing the disease – until after death. In fact, recent experimentation and study has led, in some cases, to “seemingly conflicting results.” Yet, progress is being made. For the 5 million current sufferers in the US, that may be small comfort – but to the potential 13.4 million who may succumb to the disease by 2050, that statement holds great hope.

And so, I see two concerns – one on a national policy level, and the other on a very personal level.

National Policy Issue. In my blog posting of September 29, 2010, I note that the feds have allocated only 1/12th the amount of money to fund Alzheimer’s research in comparison with funding for cancer research. (Go here for Federal budget figures, by disease.) The Time article states that the funding for BOTH cancer and heart disease research is 20 times the amount allocated for research on Alzheimer’s. Now, you may be one of the 15% who, according to Time Magazine, is not concerned about Alzheimer’s, but 84% of us are concerned. So, let’s do more with our concern than simply fret about it. Please, contact your Congressional Representative AND your Senator. Let them know that more – much more – needs to be done to combat the medical equivalent of a Hurricane Katrina. Do it. Do it now!

A Personal Concern about Alzheimer’s. I had lunch today with a very bright, highly educated, and currently employed After Fiftier. I asked this person the following question: If there did exist a definitive test to predict who would and who would not get Alzheimer’s disease, would you want to take the test and would you want to know the answer. This is the answer I received: No on both counts. Somehow my employer either would or could find out and if the results showed that I was going to get Alzheimer’s, it would have a disastrous impact on my career. Then my luncheon partner turned the tables on me. What would my answer be. Well, I said, I would want to know, so that if I were going to succumb, I could plan appropriately for that. But, like you, my friend, I’m afraid that my health insurer either would or could find out and then my coverage would be dropped.

So, bottom line, let’s fund the research to find the cure, because there are millions of us whose future depend upon it.

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