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Letter: Early detection of dementia is helpful

New York State Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr.

New York State Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. Credit: James Escher

This is in response to "Alzheimer's: Would you want to know?" [Opinion, March 16].

The Alzheimer's Foundation of America, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing optimal care and services to people with dementia and their families, is excited about the potential associated with the newly published study from Georgetown University regarding a blood test that could predict whether a healthy person will develop Alzheimer's disease.

While much more extensive research is needed -- this study was limited to individuals 70 years of age and older -- the development offers a glimmer of hope for the future.

If the study is validated, early intervention and treatment could become more the norm. Early detection could give people who will develop the brain disorder an opportunity to participate in a clinical trial or to follow a drug treatment protocol that may help slow the progression of symptoms. It also could allow people the opportunity to have "kitchen table" conversations about legal and financial planning, healthcare proxies and other related issues, and help ensure that their end-of-life wishes are honored.

The preliminary findings of this study underscore the need for increased funding for Alzheimer's disease research. There are breakthroughs on the horizon, and we need to ensure that those working so hard to develop them have the financial resources they need to bring them to fruition.

My organization has recently called on Congress to appropriate $500 million in additional funding for Alzheimer's disease research and caregiver support in the fiscal 2015 budget.

Charles J. Fuschillo Jr., Manhattan

Editor's note: The writer is the chief executive of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.