Friday, 11 April 2014

Before I Forget

Many years ago, in what seems like another lifetime, I used to have to visit the elderly in their homes, residential accommodation, or worst of all nursing homes .... these visits, while usually mundane, sometimes brought me into contact with those poor souls who had succumbed to the terrible scourge that is Alzheimer's disease. These visits left me with a lifetime fear of developing a degenerative mental condition in old age .... a fear that has not lessened as I have got older.

So the news that researchers from Georgetown University in Washington DC have suggested recently that a simple blood test can be used to accurately predict Alzheimer's disease, was a little bit of light in a very dark tunnel. Apparently by just testing the levels of 10 fat types in the blood, the results can be used to predict with 90% accuracy, the risk of the onset of the disease within the next three years or even earlier. Its now  going to be tested in larger clinical trials.

The reason why this is important is that being able to test early for the onset of Alzheimer's disease, could allow for early treatment by drugs, which even if not a full cure, may well slow the pace of the development of the disease, and could therefore have a huge impact on the patients and families: One researcher pointed out that  "Even a short delay of symptoms will have a tremendous economic benefit just in terms of the cost of care".

Dementia Is A Worldwide Epidemic

Now speaking as one who is trying to bravely face walking in to the foothills old age, and with little chance of a comfortable retirement, the idea of developing either Senile Dementia or Alzheimer's sends shivers down my spine. What I find most shocking about all this is that funding to cure the disease is very much the poor man of the illnesses, and yet its far more devastating in its impact on both individuals, and the wider society, than almost any other disease.

I for one would certainly sleep a lot better, if a world wide effort was launched to find a preventative or cure the disease asap .... I really believe that a cure is out there, it just needs the will and effort to uncover it .... and who knows, it may save me a trip to the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland.


  1. There seems to be a kind of beauty contest for funding on some diseases. King Cancer seems to top it, especially breast cancer. But without a doubt dementia comes bottom.

    1. Well, when you see thousands of pounds wasted by the NHS on a 'tummy tuck' for a mother of 3 slapper who wanted to be a 'page 3 model' .... you have to wonder at the values.


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