wOw's Question of the Week: Would You Submit to an Alzheimer's Gene Test?

Now that accurate testing for the Alzheimer’s gene is possible, would you submit to a test to see if you carry it? Join Lily Tomlin, Sheila Nevins, Liz Smith and the wOw Women in the Conversation.

LILY TOMLIN: Jane and I want to be proactive but we want to be in denial about our potential decline. So, I will secretly have Jane tested and she will secretly have me tested and then we’ll secretly treat each other with drugs and supplements that retard or ameliorate progression of the disease. Then, if the time comes, we’ll each drop the other off at the Senior Day Care Center. I don’t know who will pick us up.

JANE WAGNER: Yes, I’d like to know while knowing still means something and I can do something about it.

MARLO THOMAS: Well, I don’t have any children so I don’t have to be concerned with passing on the gene to my loved ones. As for me – no, I don’t need to know. My philosophy has always been – never face the facts as presented. They’ll kill you faster than any medicine in the drugstore.

CANDICE BERGEN: Are you KIDDING!!?? Of course I would! I would want to do as much as possible to not burden my daughter and friends with me not recognizing them. I’d make whatever legal arrangements I could, draw out the details of where and how I would like to be while I slowly senesce (a word?) into a horrid oblivion. I would exercise each day, eat smart, sleep well … anything that might buy me time. I would give my nearest and dearest warning. I would tape my favorite TV shows. Hoard my favorite snacks (m+m peanuts), buy great, cozy, fleecy PJ’s and oh GAWD … what a DEPRESSING future!

SHEILA NEVINS: No way. Can you imagine facing each day with these storm clouds hanging over you even before it rains? Silly thing to do. Good Morning Sunshine. Why doom and gloom the now.

JOAN GANZ COONEY: Since I’m slowly sinking into dementia, as it is, I think I’d avoid such a test. My stepdaughter would see to it that I was properly cared for and there would be no point in warning her because that would worry her and the other children and my husband. And ruin our time together before the disease struck.

JEAN CHATZKY: Not a chance. Every memory glitch – every senior moment (and I already have plenty) would have me in a complete panic. No thank you. But tell me if it seems to be taking hold so I can revise my will one last time and write coherent letters to those I love most.

CYNTHIA MCFADDEN: If persuaded the test does in fact do what it is reported to do, I would absolutely take it … knowledge is power. The whole idea of the test is to be able to intervene early enough to improve the outcome. I’m all for a better outcome. Or if the results are good, to stop worrying about it.

MARY WELLS: I am too big a believer in the power of the mind over the body to go looking for troubles to worry about. And don’t they usually turn out to be wrong about these great breakthroughs?

LIZ SMITH: Sure. Absolutely!!

Judith Martin: No, but the good news is that if you got bad news you would be able to forget it.

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