Regarding the article “Alzheimer's may be leading cause of death after heart disease, cancer,”, it is my experience that Alzheimer's disease claims more lives than are reported on death certificates that spell out pneumonia or urosepsis instead of the underlying cause. But people who write articles such as this forget that death is one of the few zero-sum games—the denominator is always 100% of humans. Humans have to die of something, and if we reduce the number of people dying of Alzheimer's, it will increase the portion of people dying of something else.
Nobody wants to see their parents or themselves suffer from the loss of their minds and memories—that's the reason to look for treatments, not that the disease produces death. Before we spend more money looking for ways to live longer, maybe we should concentrate some money on making old age worth living. The number of elders who would prefer a quick, peaceful death to waking up the next day is higher than you think.
Dr. Lou LukasChief medical officerHospice of the ChesapeakePasadena, Md.