Test determines risk for Alzheimer's

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SARASOTA, Fla. - A new test developed on the Suncoast may help in the fight against Alzheimer's disease. But would you want to know whether you're at high risk for developing the debilitating disease in the first place? Doctors say absolutely.

The test was developed by doctors at Sarasota's Roskamp Institute. What it does is score your risk for developing Alzheimer's; the higher the score, the lower the risk and vice-versa.

From that score a personalized lifestyle plan is developed, which doctors say could help lessen the chances of developing the disease.

Even after almost nine decades, David Goodrich knows he's still got a lot of life to live.

"Just because I'm 87, doesn't mean that I don't want to continue living my life as well as I possibly can," said Goodrich, is now a medical pioneer. He's taking part in a revolutionary new test aimed at calculating a person's risk for Alzheimer's, and then lowering that risk.

"It measures the choices that we've made previously in our lives and choices that we're making now," said Dr. Michael Mullan, who helped establish what's called the 'brain reserve index'.

It's a test based on every aspect of a person's lifestyle--from what they eat and how much they exercise, to how well they manage their medical conditions.

Once a score is established, researches then create a customized program for each participant to help lower their risk of Alzheimer's.

"Many of the lifestyle choices we make are modifiable, so we can modify our risk for Alzheimer's disease by doing things and not doing other things," said Mullan.

Things like eating fish and nuts, as well as exercising and socializing help to lower the risk.

Making sure to keep your brain active is also an important part of staying Alzheimer's-free.

"The actual recommendations that we make are not difficult to carry out," said Mullan.

And even if a person is determined to be at high risk, this isn't a test that yields a death sentence, as the results become the foundation for positive changes.

"This is a way of empowering people to reduce their risk of Alzheimer's disease by making lifestyle choices," said Mullan.

The test costs $1500 to take initially, and then $1200 a year for monitoring. For more information on taking the test, call the Roskamp Institute at 941-752-2949.