Last week’s groundbreaking news that the FDA has approved the first test that can diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in living persons raises huge implications. Dr. Bill Thomas tackles these questions in the PickerReport’s RealCareNowTV:
There has never been a way to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease in living people — until now. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week gave pre-approval to a new screening for early detection of Alzheimer’s that can reveal the unique plaques that characterize the disease years before it manifests.
The New York Times reports officials believe the tests will be widely available before the end of the year. What does this mean?
It’s a major breakthrough in neurology that raises huge ethical and personal implications in the management of this life-altering disease.
Would you want to know? Is your doctor obligated to tell you? What are the implications?
In the latest episode of RealCareNowTV, Dr. Bill Thomas is joined by geriatrician and dementia expert Dr. Al Power, author of Dementia Beyond Drugs, to discuss this difficult question: (click the video to view it at PickerReport.org)
Ronni Bennett has a must-read post on the new Alzheimer’s screening at TimeGoesBy.net:
I’ve given this a great deal of thought in the past few days. If the scan showed no plaques, then I’m home free and I wouldn’t wonder every time I forget someone’s name if I’m entering the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
If the test were positive, however, I know I would monitor myself for every minor bit of forgetfulness. How far gone am I? Is my memory loss serious yet? How do I know if I’m forgetting things if I don’t remember what I once knew?
Is this something I want to discuss with anyone beyond my physician? Do I tell relatives? Friends? If so, when? Who decides when I am no longer capable? My physician? My health care proxy?
Because I live in Oregon which has a Death with Dignity law, would I want to take advantage of that before my mind is an empty shell? But if my brain is heading south, how would I know when I’ve hit the tipping point, so to speak? Obviously, one can make an informed decision to choose to die only when one’s mind is coherent, so there are legal questions too.
It is difficult to work out and there are no precedents yet, no guides from others’ experience.
As Ronni concludes, this is not a question that can or should be tossed off easily. It’s a question that requires a conversation to answer, and we hope you’ll join the conversation by commenting below.