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Houston Matters

Recognizing the Tipping Point for Your Health

Health care professionals discuss when patients with terminal diseases should choose to take a step back from daily life and focus primarily on their own care.

A doctor goes over a PET brain scan at Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix.


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Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote an open letter last week saying she has been diagnosed with "the beginning stages of dementia, probably Alzheimer's disease."

O'Connor says her condition is forcing her to withdraw from public life. She left the High Court to care for her husband who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

While O'Connor's life is more public than most, her decision can resonate with many who have had to make a difficult health decision: What is the tipping point for those with a terminal disease to take a step back from daily life and focus primarily on their care?

In the audio above, we talk with Dr. Holly Holmes, director of the Division of Geriatric and Palliative Medicine at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth, and Isabel Valdez, physician assistant and instructor of family and community medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. They discuss recognizing that tipping point when it arrives and how their patients and families adjust when the time comes.

The 2018 Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held this Saturday, Nov. 3, at the University of Houston.

View the Letter former Justice O'Connor shared with the Washington Post: