The Cure is Not My Top Priority

June 04, 2015
Dr. Allen Power

This post originally ran on on June 3, 2015.

While attending Alzheimer’s Disease International in Perth, Australia last April, I was invited by Executive Director Marc Wortmann to attend a meeting to share opinions about what our top priorities should be regarding Alzheimer’s. Although my conference schedule did not allow me to attend in person, I passed my comments on to Marc, because I feel very strongly about this, and I knew that my thoughts would likely fall outside the majority opinion.


I think it’s fair to say that most of the people at the meeting—and many others around the world—would list research into new medications as the top priority for Alzheimer’s. Many are pushing for a cure, and I imagine that even most of those who realize how daunting a prospect “cure” truly is would still argue that developing new treatments to slow onset and progression would take the top slot.


I beg to differ and will probably ruffle a few feathers in doing so. But keep in mind that in spite of my holistic approach and rejection of many narrow biomedical precepts, I am viewing this as a physician and scientist (and a bit of a mathematician as well).


I told Marc that I believe our top priority is to build capacity and capability in our communities, both for our aging population in general, as well as those living with changing cognitive abilities of all kinds. Here’s why:


The rapidly expanding demographics regarding Alzheimer’s prevalence are a microcosm of our global aging boom, because Alzheimer’s (along with most other forms of dementia) is, first and foremost, an age-related condition. The rapidly rising number of people living with the diagnosis is not due to our risk increasing—in fact recent studies show that the lifetime risk of developing Alzheimer’s is decreasing with each generation, mainly due to better preventive and cardiovascular health. In other words, your lifetime risk of getting Alzheimer’s will be less than that of people born in the decades before you.

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2 Comments. Leave new

Bravo, Al!! You are spot on that the priority is to build dementia capacity and capability in communities nationwide. This approach addresses one major issue and barrier to living full and meaningful lives with dementia – the misperceptions and stigmas that currently impede this outcome.

The Dementia Action Alliance and the University of Buffalo, through funding support from The Retirement Research Foundation, conducted a national online survey of Americans about what should be the priorities for dementia in 2014. Two priority areas tied for first place: caregiver support (financial, information and emotional support, respite and in-home support programs); and developing and building dementia care knowledge and skills for the workforce and care partners. Research for the cure was tied with research for care for second place.


WOW, so nice to know I’m not the only person that feels this way. Of course, we’d all love to see a cure but in the mean time people suffer and they need help now!!! Thanks for the honesty….


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