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Imagine for a moment that you surmount life's outrageous fortunes and you go over the hurdles, and then you face toward the end of your life the reward for your appropriate and successful aging, the loss of your most human qualities--your ability to reason, make decisions, remember.
That is the fate that my Aunt Barbara faced and a percentage of Americans must deal with. That is, a large fraction of us, if we don't find solutions, ultimately will will suffer the syndrome called Alzheimer's disease.
If you live to 85, you have a 50 per cent chance of getting Alzheimer's.
With the enormous increase in people achieving the age of 65, we cannot allow this disease to become the scourge it already is. Alzheimer's will be much more prevalent in the future by the ironic fact that medical science is helping us live longer.
Now, it is the case that not everyone will suffer this tragic disorder. Currently, experts say that if you live to 85, you will have a 50 per cent chance of getting Alzheimer's.
Researchers and doctors are focused now on making Alzheimer's a treatable condition since indications are that the disease can begin up to 20 years before symptoms such as memory loss manifest themselves.
For example, some scientists believe that a simple test, an exam of the retina (considered part of the brain) by a eye examination, can show early build up of the plaques and tangles that are the hallmark of the disease.
The model of Alzheimer's treatment would be a disease such as diabetes, in which symptoms can be detected and treated with diet, exercise and medications. We treat but don't cure diabetes.