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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Alzheimer’s: do you want to know?

There's great buzz in Alzheimer's circles about a new brain scan technology that can detect  beta-amyloid (protein) plaques, which build up in the brain like toxic waste when you have Alzheimer's.

Before now, the plaques could be confirmed only upon autopsy. The scan isn't widely available, and it's expensive, but it still begs the question: If you had the tell-tale signs of Alzheimer's, would you want to know, since there is no cure and no treatment that does much?

Another twist: Research has shown that some people (upon autopsy) had horrible plaques but never lost their memory. Others had horrible dementia and no plaques.

(S-R archive photo of Ronald Reagan, who died of Alzheimer's) 

Senators OK Alzheimers Resolution

Deeply personal stories preceded a unanimous Senate vote to support a statewide plan meant to help Idaho's increasing population of people suffering from deadly Alzheimer's disease. Sen. Joyce Broadsword of Sagle on Monday spoke of the painful decline of her grandmother, who ended her days unable to remember loved ones surrounding her — or details from the rich life she'd lived. Creating a statewide plan, according to its Senate sponsors, would boost community awareness and help nurture a comprehensive approach toward educating the public about the United States' sixth-leading cause of death/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.

Question: Has your family been affected by Alzheimers?

Til death (or illness?) do us part

Christian televangelist Pat Robertson has infuriated many of his viewers with his comment that a person is within his/her moral right to divorce a spouse who has Alzheimer's disease. The extremely conservative pastor defended his stance by saying that Alzheimer's disease “is a kind of death.”

 Have you had a conversation with your spouse…”Honey, if I am diagnosed with dementia, I would want you to…”? 

 Certainly Robertson's comments are a good conversation starter.

(Spokesman Review archive photo of Nancy Reagan with husband former president Ronald Reagan, who died of Alzheimer's in 2004)

Losing your mind: Do you want to know?

Spinal fluid tests can now “see” what are possible telltale signs of impending Alzheimer's disease. In a Reuters story about a report in the journal Neurology, the writer explained:

Current spinal fluid tests for Alzheimer's look for an imbalance in two proteins: beta amyloid, which forms sticky plaques in the brain, and tau, which is seen as a marker of brain cell damage. People with Alzheimer's tend to have lower levels of beta amyloid and higher levels of tau protein in their spinal fluid, and doctors often test for this to confirm the dementia is caused by Alzheimer's.

But would you want to know?