Alzheimer’s experts gather in Philadelphia

    Fifty international experts, gathered in Philadelphia for a summit on Alzheimer’s disease, are attempting to identify key issues in coping with the likely increase of Alzheimer’s cases as America’s population ages.

    Participating experts in the two-day summit come from different disciplines — medicine, science, nursing, ethics, economics and policy — to discuss how to address Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S.

    Five million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, but that incidence is expected to rise dramatically as America’s population ages.

    For Jason Karlawish, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, ethics in diagnostics are a major concern. Doctors have the tools to identify patients who are at high risk for developing Alzheimer’s — but they have no cure or real treatments to offer. The question is, should the risk be shared?

    Karlawish describes the quandary.

    “How, if at all, we tell people this information. Who should do it. How should they do it,” he said. “And how should we monitor patients to make sure that this information is beneficial instead of harmful.”

    Karlawish says another concern is the lack of health-care professionals who are trained to provide care for older adults with dementia and multiple medical issues.

    The group hopes to contribute to the National Alzheimer’s Plan, which was announced last month.

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