Living with Alzheimer's: Managing Memory Loss, Identity, and Illness

New York Univ. Apr. 2016. 336p. notes. index. ISBN 9781479889808. pap. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781479849253. HEALTH
Alzheimer's disease is prominently featured in news stories, books, and articles. It is usually portrayed as a condition to dread and the incidence is rising. This may be due to an aging population and better diagnostic tools. Beard (sociology, Coll. of the Holy Cross, MA) decided to look at Alzheimer's and other types of cognitive impairment as more than a label and a prognosis of doom. The author interviewed approximately 100 seniors who were being evaluated for cognitive issues as well as some who were coping with forgetfulness after diagnosis. She notes the tendency of health-care providers and the general public to label these individuals and socialize them to fit their new status. She also remarks on the strength of elders who cope with their deficits gracefully and live happy lives despite the stigma and preconceived notions of others. Beard considers how these labels may affect the treatment of patients by interviewing clinicians and staff members of advocacy organizations who tend to concentrate on the negative aspects of the disease despite good intentions.
VERDICT An intriguing examination of an important health issue. The presentation is academic, but informed general readers will find it useful.

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