3 out of 4 seniors said they'd want to know

December 13, 2016

TUESDAY, Dec. 13, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- If a test could tell them they were going to develop Alzheimer's disease, most American seniors would take it, a new study finds.

Stanford University researchers asked 875 people aged 65 and older if they would take a free, accurate test to predict their future risk of the progressive brain disorder. Three-quarters said they would take such a test.

When asked what they would do if they knew they would develop Alzheimer's, 87 percent of the participants said they would discuss health plans with loved ones. Eight out of 10 said they would make plans for their future care and/or make a living will. Only 15 percent said they had already done so, according to the study.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia.

The results were published Dec. 12 in the journal Alzheimer's Research and Therapy.

"We found that interest in a predictive test for Alzheimer's disease was similar amongst the participants regardless of whether or not they perceived themselves as being at high or low risk of developing Alzheimer's disease," said lead author Dr. Meera Sheffrin, of Stanford's School of Medicine in Palo Alto, Calif.

"Unexpectedly, interest did not vary between individuals who were healthy and those suffering from many medical conditions, or by sex, race, functional status or perceived memory," Sheffrin added in a journal news release.

This high level of interest could be because Alzheimer's is often in the media and perceived as a particularly devastating disease, Sheffrin said.

As these predictive tests become available, she added, researchers and doctors should be aware of this potential high demand "so recourses are available to help counsel patients and prepare for the future."

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on Alzheimer's disease.

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