Genetic Predisposition to Alzheimer’s? To know, or not to know…

If you had a genetic disposition to Alzheimer’s, would you want to know? Often, we are so immensely burdened by the shadow of a doubt that ignorance is bliss. But with proper planning, there is life to be lived in the present. According to the Alzheimer’s Association:

“Researchers have observed that having a parent or sibling with Alzheimer’s disease does increase one’s risk somewhat above the general population’s risk of developing the disease. Some people with such family histories, and some without such histories, wish to have a genetic test that will answer the question: ‘Will I be next?'”

(Read more: Planning for People with Alzheimer’s Disease: Part 1)

Deep soul searching is required to discover the truth behind the question, “Would I want to know?”

The answer for everyone will be different, but the following are some pros and cons of receiving the answer to this question, presented by Brett Blumenthal on

1. Many of the tests are not accurate — plus, having a predisposition doesn’t mean you’re definitely going to get the condition.
2. Alzheimer’s doesn’t have a cure, so why know about it?
3. If you are predisposed to Alzheimer’s you may end up obsessing about it.

(Read more: Alzheimer’s Planning Legal Advice)

Prevention is the only “pro” she lists. However, researchers have identified that, “There is not yet scientific proof that any of their presumed risk factors, in fact, cause Alzheimer’s. Only if they are shown to do so could the new analysis be considered a practical recipe for preventing the disease.”

The following are 10 additional reasons why you may benefit from knowing:

(Read more: Planning for People with Alzheimer’s Disease: Part 2)
1. Planning. You can prepare health care documents such as a living will and a durable power of attorney to dictate your preferences for end-of-life care.
2. More planning. You can generate financial documents such as a general power of attorney to prepare for the possibility that you may be unable to make healthcare decisions, and a will.
3. Long-term financial planning will establish how to pay for for medical care, along with how you will finance possible placement in assisted living or long-term care facility.
4. Live! Don’t wait for retirement to see the world or learn to play the guitar!
5. Resign or retire early if you can afford it. Pursue your passion.
6. If you can’t leave work full-time, try to reduce your hours.
7. Spend more time with family and friends.
8. If and when Alzheimer’s symptoms arise at least you’ll know why and cut yourself some slack.
9. Share your burden with family and friends so they will understand and help.
10. It is a very personal decision to get tested for a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s, but knowing the results may help you make the best decisions about your life today.

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