Is It Worth Knowing Alzheimer's is Coming if There's Nothing You Can Do About It?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A nurse holds the hands of a person suffering from Alzheimer's disease. (Getty Images/Getty)

We're following a new development about research into Alzheimer's treatment and prevention. On Tuesday, drug manufacturer Eli Lilly stopped two late-stage clinical trials of a treatment after researchers found an experimental drug was actually making Alzheimer’s symptoms worse. The news is just one more setback in a long series of setbacks for attempts to cure or prevent the deadly disease. 

However, there was some good news recently: determining who will get Alzheimer's. Researchers reported a few weeks ago that a spinal test can predict — with 100 percent accuracy — whether people who are experiencing severe memory loss will get the disease. However, there is nothing medically that can be done, even if you know it's coming.

We’re asking, is it better to know if you're going to get Alzheimer's, or is it easier to stay in the dark? Do you have a relative with Alzheimer's? What would you have done differently if you'd had known it was coming?

We speak with Dr. Murali Doraiswamy, professor at Duke University and co-author of "The Alzheimer's Action Plan," as well as Susan Crowson, the daughter of a patient with Alzheimer's disease.


Susan Crowson and Dr. Murali Doraiswamy

Comments [4]

CarolB from North Bend, WA

Before you take a test like this you had better make sure you have health insurance and life insurance that aren't tied to your employment so you can't lose them. You can take omega 3's and do other things that have been shown to affect the onset of Alzheimer's. It disturbs me that they are focusing on treating the disease rather than preventing it as usual. I've become cynical enough to believe that this is really just another avenue to a "blockbuster" drug that will do nothing more than mask symptoms.

Aug. 19 2010 09:48 AM
Lisa from New Jersey

I think I would want to know so I could have a say in my own care and prepare my child. I may not be able to change what is going to happen to me but if can make it easier on my child....make it easier for loved ones to cope then I would want to know.

Aug. 18 2010 11:47 PM
carla danesi from rochester,ny

In answer to the question is no,I would do nothing different because when alzheimers hit my mom,someone I love,it hit me.its already done the damage.however the truth is staying proactive,trying to save my mom,helping the alzheimers association in anyway I can,doing my own local press rally;that is what I would do if I knew I was going to get it and that's exactly what I'm doing,so for me its a moot point.however,the true question still remains:if you could help save someone you love-what would you do?every american needs to know the truth so they have the chance to change the future of this killer.when it hit my mom,it hit me.I would have rather it hit me first than have had to watch what I've seen it do to I would change nothing and I will take no test.I will continue to my fight against alzheimers.thankyou,carla danesi glorias daughter let's all see the breakthrough ride petition home to washington full,to mom as I tell you each day,I will always love you no matter what and its me and you to the end

Aug. 18 2010 08:17 PM
Julie Gartrell from Saint Paul, MN

Knowledge can be, thought not always is, empowering. I have worked in the field of learning disabilities for over 30 years, a field that is based on the processing of information by the brain. Parents and learners alike find it more enabling to know that their experiences have some causality even if the methods of intervention may not be as wide-ranged as hoped. Recently I read CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT I FORGOT:The Good News From the Front Lines of Memory Research. It is an informative book on memory loss related to varying levels of dementia written in laymen's terms. Thought it may not meet hard science research standards, it is realistic in its conclusions. We know ways to identify and diagnose factors relative to Alzhemers; we have minimal answers in terms of prevention. I sought out such answers myself in relation to increasing difficulty with dysnomia, the ability to retrieve language concepts, that went beyond what simple aging would cause. After a series of psychometric tests, several of which I had given myself as a result of assessment of LD, I was told no problems existed. I was probably just making certain neurological tasks harder than they should be. I didn't know whether to laugh or be insulted. I would never tell parents of a child with a learning disability that their child was having difficulty processing information because they were trying too hard to do so. The day it becomes a negative to ask questions about phenomena we don't totally understand or want to know the answers to issues that have no easy answers will be the day that medical science ceases to be an open field of inquiry.
Julie Gartrell, Ed. D.
Professor Emeritus

Aug. 18 2010 04:05 PM

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