What we don’t want to know

That was scary. They call it the SAGE test: Self-Administered Gerocognitive Exam.

I mean, the name itself is scary. It’s “designed to detect early signs of cognitive, memory or thinking impairments.”

Here I am noodling around on the computer on a cool, cloudy June afternoon, trying to find something to write about. Been trying for a while to make myself jump into a blog. I still think of myself as a writer, even though I haven’t been writing much since I retired, a year-and-a-half ago.

Anyway, an email pops up from the Alzheimer’s Prevention Registry, virtually daring me to take this test. There’s a new drug that could prevent Alzheimer’s if started early enough and they are looking for subjects who might have early signs of the dread disease (now the third leading cause of death in the United States, according to a Washington Post article).

The problem is, people don’t want to know if they have “early signs of cognitive and brain dysfunction,” because there’s nothing you can do to stop it anyway. But now there might be. There are more than 100 different studies and trials going on, looking at new drugs, old drugs, diet, exercise, etc.

There are:

  • Treatment trials to test new treatments or new combinations of treatments;
  • Diagnostic studies to find new tests or procedures for diagnosing a disease or condition;
  • Prevention trials to investigate ways to prevent the onset of diseases;
  • Screening studies to test methods to identify diseases or conditions at the earliest stages;
  • Quality of life studies to look at different ways to improve quality of life for individuals who have a chronic illness, their caregivers and family members.

So did I want to know? I sat in front of that damn test for a long time before I started taking it. But finally I dug in.

What makes it so scary is my 91-year-old mother’s ongoing descent into dementia.

The scientists say that there’s “a moderate amount of familial clustering,” for late-onset AD, which is what she’s facing. Thus “a family history of AD among close relatives can elevate one’s risk to 20 percent,” unless it’s early onset, which makes it much higher.

I took a deep breath and started the test. I did just fine, getting all the answers right. Maybe you’d like to try it?

5 thoughts on “What we don’t want to know

  1. Hi again Linc. This is the first time I have sat down to read all your interesting articles. I’ll try the test soon. Gail

  2. Linc,
    Most European insurance companies are very active and surpportive of Climate Change. If you had not seen this article you may find it of interest.
    Bye.
    Bill
    Survey Shows 8-in-10 Americans Believe in Climate Change

    By Don Jergler | December 2, 2014

    More than eight-in-10 Americans now believe the climate is changing – although they place that concern beneath issues like global political instability, economic crisis or a pandemic.

    Munich Re America’s inaugural 2014 Climate Change Barometer survey released on Tuesday shows that 83 percent of the 1,000-plus Americans surveyed believe climate change is occurring, and 63 percent are concerned about changes in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes and tornadoes.

    The survey shows Americans living in the Northeast the most concerned about climate change. More than three-quarters of Northeast residents are concerned about changes in the severity of weather events, more than those in the West (65 percent), while concern in the Midwest (60 percent) and South (59 percent) followed.

    With opinions on climate change in Europe known to be strong, Ernst Rauch, one of the heads of Munich Re’s geo risks department, said the survey is important to the international carrier to get a handle on how American’s feel about it.

    Munich Re America Survey Graphic 3“We conducted this survey in order to understand where American people stand in response to climate change and adaptation to climate change and mitigation of climate change,” Rauch said. “We realized when we talked to people in different parts of the world that every nation has its own perception and understanding of climate change.”

    In Europe, for instance, climate change is part of a mainstream debate, while in other countries there is no debate at all.

    The U.S. was perceived to be somewhere in between, he said.

    “It has changed and this is one of the most interesting outcomes of this survey,” Rauch said, adding that in the past most Americans were believed to be reluctant in accepting the position that climate change is real. “This survey to us was a surprise.”

    Seventy-one percent of Americans believe that to most effectively slow down climate change a greater emphasis should be placed on using alternative energy, while 66 percent of those surveyed support government-backed tax incentives to drive business or consumer behavior, the survey shows.

    More than six-in-10 believe education initiatives about ways households can reduce their carbon footprint would be most effective, according to the survey.

    Asked what they plan to do about it, 63 percent of those surveyed plan to fortify or have already fortified their homes to protect themselves from future severe weather events, and 47 percent have purchased or plan to purchase an additional insurance policy, such as flood or earthquake insurance.

    Nearly half (47 percent) would consider moving away from hazard-prone areas, the survey shows.

    Despite increased awareness of climatic issues and the long-term risks of change associated with them, the survey found that Americans are least concerned about climate change compared with other potential crises.

    Only 14 percent were concerned about climate change when compared to global political instability (31 percent), an economic crisis (27 percent) or a pandemic (22 percent).

    Paired with evidence that shows Americans are starting to care more about climate change, those results presented a sort of paradox for the survey authors.

    “Obviously now climate change is part of the American mainstream thinking, but it when it comes to the question ‘What is a concern to you?’ climate change ranks in a lower place,” Rauch said.

    Munich Re America Survey Graphic 2Rauch surmised that the rise in awareness and concern over climate change among Americans is due to the extreme weather events that have hit the U.S. in that last two decades – Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, the ongoing drought in the West.

    “I think the broader public realized extreme weather patterns are now affecting them, and this could be a driver in the change of perceptions,” Rauch said.

    While there are no immediate plans to start on another survey, Rauch said there are a few next questions to ask.

    “To me the next logical question is to ask a bit more concrete questions about adaptation,” he said.

    He’d also like to have survey participants field a few questions on how they acquire knowledge about climate change.

    “How do you get informed on a more constant basis about climate change, about the science, about the means of adaptation? Is it from the news, or social media?” he said.

    The results of survey are based on a national probability sample of 1,008 telephone interviews conducted among adults 18 years of age or older (502 males and 506 females) living in private households in the continental U.S.

    Since insurance-related risk management focuses on how atmospheric changes affect losses caused by severe weather events regardless of cause, this survey did not ask specifically about human-made global warming, but about significant change in the measures of climate, according to the authors of the survey.

  3. Hi Linc
    I eagerly took the Alzheimer test and got everything right. Thanks for making it available. I am nearly neurotic about the disease, since it took my dad away. And all those pesky warnings about genetic inheritance…

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