As an English literature major, I'm used to hefty 500-page books, however the books of this size that I've enjoyed have generally been 19th Century novels or anthologies of classic prose and poetry.
When a weighty hardbound copy of The Alzheimer's Action Plan arrived in my mailbox, I looked at it with some trepidation. Reference - yes. Cover to cover reading? Not too sure. However, I wanted to get this information out to our readers here on OurAlzheimer's.com, so I dug in.
I must congratulate the authors, P. Murali Doraiswamy, M.D., Chief of Biological Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center and Lisa P. Gwyther, M.S.W, Founder and Director of the Alzheimer's Family Support Program at the Duke University Center for Aging. The Alzheimer's Action Plan is extraordinarily readable. No offense to the writing abilities of doctors and social workers, but my guess is these two dedicated and talented professionals were smart enough to realize they needed a writer to blend the vast knowledge they bring to the subject into an art form not just palatable, but enjoyable to the audience they seek. Thus, they hired Tina Adler, a writer. As a group, they produced a remarkable book.
Looks can be deceiving. The textbook look (and feel) of The Alzheimer's Action plan should be ignored. Yes, you'll want this book as a reference. Yes, this is about practical application of knowledge and tools. However, it is far more than that.
Respect for the person with Alzheimer's is palpable throughout this book, and while the book doesn't focus on the caregiver - there are plenty that do, and that is not then main purpose here - there is compassion and advice for the caregivers, as well.
The Alzheimer's Action Plan weighs in heavily about the importance of early diagnosis. The authors are honest about treatment available, and lack thereof. However, studies increasingly point to evidence that early diagnosis can make the first stages of Alzheimer's easier to live with, and may even prolong the, as of now, inevitable decline into late stage Alzheimer's and all of the issues that brings with it.
The authors dedicated a full section, titled "Yes, There Is Life After Diagnosis," to explaining how people with Alzheimer's, and their families, can make the best of those early stages. Some people can even continue working, with an understanding employer and/or some extra help. Much of that depends of the type of work they do, as well as the speed at which the disease advances.
Writing a paper and ink book on this fast changing subject takes courage. The Alzheimer's Action Plan mentions studies that showed promise when the book went to press, that have since been scrapped. It also mentions studies that were not showing promise at press time, but now - just within the last weeks or couple of months - are once again gaining favor. That is that nature of a published book. The authors have an upfront disclaimer acknowledging this issue.
I was intrigued by the authors' open minded approach to some alternative treatments, their open endorsement of leading a heart-healthy lifestyle for your whole body, with the hope that it may stave off Alzheimer's for some people, and their invaluable section of the top 40 frequently asked questions. This section alone is worth the price of the book.
The Alzheimer's Action Plan needs to be on your bookshelf. But read it first. It's not just for reference purposes. This book will give you a good foundation that will help you ask your own physicians the right questions. It encourages second opinions. The tone is one of hope, and that there is life after the diagnosis. Take action and buy this excellent tool for managing the Alzheimer's journey.
The Alzheimer's Action Plan, published by St. Martin's Press, is available in book stores and online.
Published On: June 20, 2008