We elder folk will soon be the largest demographic. So it follows that as our population ages, discussions about dementia and Alzheimer’s will increase too. There have long been a number of tests that can show the progression of dementia in its many forms. And MRIs are used to show the nefarious beta-amyloid plaques in the brain. I recently read this in an eye-opening report by Loren Grush, Fox News (3/11/14):
For decades, conducting an autopsy was the only way for doctors to determine if an Alzheimer’s patient had an accumulation of [so-called “sticky”] beta-amyloid plaques in the brain – a major hallmark of cognitive decline. But over the past few years, brain imaging using an experimental radioactive dye has helped physicians confirm the presence of these plaques while patients are still alive. Now, a new multi-center study has confirmed that this type of scanning can detect early evidence of Alzheimer’s disease, predicting future impairment among patients with little to no symptoms. The radioactive dye, florbetapir (AMYViD), works like a chemical stain in the brain. Once injected into the body, florbetapir binds and sticks to the brain’s beta-amyloid plaques, helping to estimate the extent of plaque buildup throughout the brain’s regions. Then, through positron emission tomography (PET) scanning, a radioactive tracer looks for chemicals in the dye and produces an image highlighting the positioning of the plaques in the brain. …
My question is, if I were thirty years younger, or if Peter was, would either of us want to know if we were likely to get Alzheimer’s? Hm, maybe, but I’d want to know there was a total cure or some preventative care that could really slow the disease. Otherwise, if we were still in our forties, I don’t think either of us would choose to live with the specter of Alzheimer’s hanging over our heads!
After all, a little forgetfulness is expected when one reaches a certain age. Sadly, it’s when “a little” forgetfulness turns into “a lot” of forgetfulness that problems arise.
But there’s always time for a laugh.