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Alzheimer's Can Be Predicted Using Combination of Existing Tests

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Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, is also the leading and most expensive cause of long term care insurance claims. A new study being released this week reports that using a combination of medical tests, medical professionals can better predict the likelihood of this disease.

Today, some 5.4 million Americans are living with Alzheimer's disease according to the 2011 Long Term Care Almanac published by the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance. "Two thirds are women," explains Jesse Slome, the organization's director, "and most survive an average of four to eight years after diagnosis, though some live as long as 20 years." Alzheimer's is the leading cause for long term care insurance claims.

By 2050, the Alzheimer's Association predicts as many as 16 million individuals will be diagnosed with the disease. They note that of Americans age 65 and over, one in eight has Alzheimer's and that nearly half of all those who reach age 85 have the disease.

According to scientists from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, a combination of broadly available medical tests can yield a superior predictive picture of the likelihood of impending Alzheimer's disease in patients with mild cognitive impairments. This is an intermediate stage between the expected cognitive decline of normal aging and the more pronounced decline of dementia.

"This is good news for individuals who score a negative on these tests because they have no greater risk of near-term dementia than a similarly aged healthy person without a memory complaint," Slome notes.

To determine the likelihood of developing Alzheimer's disease, researchers compared risk factors based on magnetic resonance imaging along with neuropsychological tests widely available to clinicians. They found that using available biomarkers significantly improved accuracy in predicting near-term conversion to dementia.

Financial planning experts advise that adults in their 50s and young 60s with a family history of cognitive disorders including Alzheimer's look into long term care insurance. "Insurance is only available to those who can medically qualify," Slome explains, "because the long term care insurance industry already pays out over $6 billion a year in claims, so they look for those who aren't already diagnosed with some risky condition."

To learn more about long-term care planning and get long-term care insurance costs from a designated expert via the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance's Consumer Information Center.

The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance is the national trade organization focused on educating individuals about the importance of long-term care planning. The Association's Consumer Information Center was voted the #1 source for information by consumer interest group rating and can be accessed at www.aaltci.org/long-term-care-insurance.

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