There has been a lot in the news lately about Alzheimer’s disease. Any publicity which brings attention to this horrible disease is probably “a good thing” to the extent that awareness can help bring more focus and energy to the funding options treatment and hopefully a cure. I frequently get asked questions about Alzheimer’s Disease by people who know that I changed my career direction from real estate development to a unique model of practicing elder law because of our family’s experience with both Alzheimer’s Disease and vascular dementia at the end stage of all of four of the lives of my parents and in-laws. Skip to the end for three specific invitations if you have no interest in reading my thoughts about some areas of concern from which I frequently get asked questions:
Diagnosis: When an otherwise fairly family member forgets significant and recent conversations with some frequency or otherwise starts to behave a bit strangely with respect to their expected personality or surrounding circumstances, it is probably time to ask the family doctor for a referral to a neurologist. While there is no single and conclusive diagnostic test as there are for many other diseases, and many experts believe that the absolute existence of Alzheimer’s cannot be established until an inspection of the brain upon autopsy, a neurologist can provide a useful opinion. On Tuesday May 22, the Wall Street Journal featured an article which reported the availability of three tests: the PET scan, at a cost of $3,000 to $6,000; the spinal tap at a cost of $200 to $800; and a genetic test at cost of $300. Since none of these tests are conclusive, it seems fair to question the value and purpose of creating a possible false assumption about the probability of contracting a disease for which there is no cure.
Prevention: At the risk of being too negative or sounding unappreciative of the well intentioned work of many experts, most of the advice with regard to Alzheimer’s prevention is pretty much the same as that otherwise offered to promote good health. There just isn’t anything as simple and basic, such as the specific advice to those with coronary heart disease to take a daily aspirin. On a personal level, my father had hereditary issues which gave him heart disease that he managed for the last 35 years of his life. Despite having well coached and highly disciplined exemplary lifestyle habits, many of which are now cited as ways to prevent Alzheimer’s, he experienced severe Alzheimer’s for the last few years of his life. My non-medical conclusion and personal opinion is that we just don‘t yet know what causes or prevents Alzheimer’s.
Treatment: There are some prescriptions which do have a significant and positive effect in relation to the issue of memory loss. Previously I blogged about an impressive therapy technique called Timeslips; and there are a number of other games and therapies for which moderately impressive and worthwhile anecdotal benefits have been reported.
Three Opportunities We Offer You In Relation to Alzheimer’s Disease:
1. Call us to schedule an initial consultation with our Dementia Team which includes a social worker, estate planner, Certified Dementia Practitioner, Veterans Accredited Attorneys and more.
Keystone has answers to a caregiver’s questions about the right care, legal capacity, and how to preserve both the dignity of your loved one and your well-being as a caregiver
2. You can get our free Alzheimer’s Resource Kit here.
3. You can participate with or contribute to the Keystone Alzheimer’s Walk team here.