What doctors are afraid to tell you about Alzheimer’s

Let’s say you’re 55 and learned today that you’d definitely live to be at least 85.

That would be pretty good news, right? But what if you learned, at the same time, that you’d positively be in the 47 percent of the population over 85 that gets Alzheimer’s disease. Not such good news, you say.

Guess what? Chances are, as an American woman, you will live to be close to 85, according to life expectancy statistics from the World Health Organization. Sadly, there’s that ominous fact that in the living population, 85 and older, 50 percent have a chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease. Simply put, the longer we live, the greater our chance of getting this horrific disease that causes our brains to waste away. Since there’s no cure yet, this is a frightening fact, even if the grim prospect of affliction is decades away for you.

Happily, a breakthrough, non-invasive eye test may soon tell us, years before symptoms actually show up, whether we’ll likely get Alzheimer’s. Hopefully, it also will help the medical community to create a drug that can stop the progression of the disease once an early diagnosis is made.

I had the privilege recently to interview the man who led the team that invented this test, Dr. Keith L. Black, Chairman and Professor of the Department of Neurosurgery, Director of Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute and Director of Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Brain Tumor Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in L.A. I urge you to read every word. Besides giving you a straightforward, no-nonsense understanding of Alzheimer’s, the doctor explains if there’s anything we can do to attack the disease before it irreversibly attacks us and whether our little memory lapses are as innocent as our friends, relatives, and doctors say they are.

The interview unsettled me, but it gave me essential knowledge about a disease that has taken many of our loved ones for generations, is now taking many of our parents and is painfully close to taking many of us. It’s knowledge I think we all need to know. I hope you agree.

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