The Problem of Alzheimer’s: How Science, Culture, and Politics Turned a Rare Disease Into a Crisis and What We Can Do about It

St. Martin’s. Feb. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9781250218735. $27.99. HEALTH
As the number of older people in the United States grows, so does Alzheimer’s disease. In 2020, around 5.8 million Americans lived with it, and it is estimated that by 2025, around 13.8 million will. It is often devastating to those who suffer from it, their families (many of whom become their caregivers and may also end up paying for their care), as well as to the society and economy. In this careful and caring new look at the issue, physician Karlawish (Co-Director, Penn Memory Center) explores the history of the disease and its treatments; contemporary efforts to determine its multitudinous causes and manifestations and how to treat them, either pharmaceutically or therapeutically; and how governmental and other health programs can better respond. Ever since Alois Alzheimer conducted his revolutionary studies of the disease over 100 years ago, no cures have been found, current treatment and medications are often ineffective and inadequate, and even exact causes have been hard to pin down.
VERDICT As science and medicine continue to study Alzheimer’s, Karlawish suggests, advances in technology, assisted living arrangements, and other lifestyle changes can be used to help people live well with the disease. A must-read on an important subject.
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