“One in three people in this room will get Alzheimer’s. One in two will look after someone with Alzheimer’s. As a society, we’re sleepwalking into this.”
--- Dr. Nick Fox, London National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery.
And this book is a good start for waking up. This is not a book on how to live with or care for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. It is instead about the search to understand the disease, from its first discussion in 1906 to research going on today. It is not very technical, but it goes deeply into the subject.
Jebelli begins with his own grandfather’s degeneration from the disease, which propelled Jebelli into neuroscience himself. And he discusses his interactions with other men and women progressing through Alzheimer’s in various ways. There are several chapters on the possible causes of Alzheimer’s. Jebelli spends a lot of space discussing potential treatments and prevention methods; but while some methods appear to lessen one’s chances of getting Alzheimer’s or at least to slow its progression, the results are not definitive, they do not work for most people, and the improvements are small. Unfortunately, as Jebelli notes, the world spends only about one tenth the amount of money on Alzheimer’s research as it does on cancer, even though the rate of occurrence and death is similar. We appear to have accepted age-related mental destruction as inevitable, when we should label it as a disease to be treated and cured.
Jobelli takes us on "a journey that's spanned the globe and brought with it a kaleidoscope of blind alleys, high hopes and stark tragedy," in his efforts to trace the history of human interaction with Alzheimer's dementia. He takes us from the discovery of the malady to the frontiers of the science trying to combat it, whether through lifestyle changes or through novel approaches to clearing out-of-control amyloid from the brain by gene therapy, blood transfusions, and even the surprising potency of tumeric. Hope might come from research into communities as far-flung as Iceland and Columbia. he concludes from the best of science at the end of 2017 that the disease is age-related, though aging not itself the cause, and that genetics and earlier detection are apparently the keys to our next successes. He sees blessed hope through many strains of research that we will see the "abolition" of this epidemic.
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