Alzheimer’s is a horrible affliction that has been on the rise in Georgia and across the nation. By some estimates, the number of seniors in the state who are expected to suffer from the disease in the next decade is expected to grow by more than 46%. That’s a frightening possibility that should provoke a renewed effort to find a solution that can help to prevent the disease. In Columbus, Georgia, a group of researchers has launched a clinical trial that is designed to find a medical solution that can help seniors everywhere avoid this dreaded condition. But to accomplish their goals, they need help.
Calling All volunteers!
Trials always require participants, and this one is no different. In this case, researchers are asking for volunteers to participate in a trial that will last five years. It will be focused on adults between the ages of 60 and 75, who are currently demonstrating healthy cognitive function but who may be at greater risk for Alzheimer’s due to genetic factors. That genetic factor involves inherited copies of the specific e4 apolipoprotein (APOE) gene, which has been affirmatively identified as the largest genetic factor at play in individuals who have a higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
That protein is believed to play a critical role in the development of the disease, and the researchers have apparently created a drug that is designed to not only prevent it from taking root in the brain but remove the proteins as well. Participants will undergo cheek swap testing to identify which variation of the protein they have in their bodies, and will then be screened for participation in the five-year study.
Trials Becoming More Commonplace
This trial is by no means the first of its kind. That distinction would go to a family-based trial that began in 2012 in Columbia. That trial, like this one, focused on subjects who were genetically susceptible to the condition, and tested a different prevention methodology. Other trials in recent years have focused on insulin regulation, medications, and even inherited genes that might explain why black Americans seem to get Alzheimer’s more than whites.
Anyone who has a loved one with this dread disease understands all too well just how harmful it can be. Alzheimer’s is the single most-common type of dementia, representing anywhere from sixty to eighty percent of all recorded cases. Like other forms of dementia, it is typified by cognitive impairment, memory loss, and other mental diminishment that impairs the patient’s ability to lead a normal and productive life. It should not be mistaken as just another normal symptom of the aging process, however. It is a disease that can sometimes affect people when they are still in their 40s.
Alzheimer’s has become a greater concern in recent decades, as more Americans learn about its devastating effects on individuals and families. Its progressive nature makes it a difficult condition to deal with, as patients typically experience a slow and steady decline in cognitive function over the course of several years. While it initially involves less severe loss of memory, that can eventually progress to a more advanced stage in which the patient loses the ability to recognize even the most familiar people and other aspects of his life, and can no longer engage in meaningful conversation or expression. Sadly, the disease ranks sixth in the United States for leading causes of death.
Efforts like this trial are important, since there is no actual cure for the condition at this point in time. Treatments have only been able to slow the disease’s progression in certain cases, though that treatment does provide patients with a longer period of capacity in which to enjoy their lives. As new trials continue to be launched across the globe, those who advocate for and work with Alzheimer’s patients remain hopeful that a final solution will eventually be discovered.
Eventually, Alzheimer’s patients lose the ability to manage many aspects of their own lives. Depending on the progression of the condition, patients can find themselves unable to make their own legal decisions within a few years. Few maintain cognitive function once the disease progresses to a certain point. That can be a particularly distressing time for them and their families, as frustration builds and questions about financial and medical decisions begin to emerge.
Often times, patients are declared legally incapacitated before they have had an opportunity to take the necessary steps needed to ensure continuity in their decision-making. That can leave their fates to the mercy of probate courts, where a judge ultimately decides who will serve as the patient’s guardian in those critical matters. Across the country, courts appoint guardians for seniors and other incapacitated adults every day – and sometimes with disastrous results.
When a judge is allowed to decide who your guardian is going to be, you run the risk of suffering from a variety of bad consequences. That guardian may be unscrupulous, and waste your estate assets. He or she could make poor decisions about your finances, or provoke conflict within your family. Most importantly, he or she will probably have no idea how you would want your affairs to be managed. This is especially true in those instances where courts appoint professional guardians rather than a close family member. There are, however, ways to prevent that from happening.
With the help of an elder law attorney, you can put an incapacity plan in place that will ensure that you have designated agents to act on your behalf in the event of incapacitation due to Alzheimer’s or any other illness or injury. That can give you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your best interests will be protected when you can no longer make those decisions on your own. At the Fouts Law Group, LLC, you can receive the help you need to create your incapacity plan today. To find out more, contact us online or call us at (678) 242-8344.
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