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From The CriticsReviewer: Joel Havemann, BA(Los Angeles Times)
Description: Parkinson's Disease: 300 Tips in fact spells out 355 ideas (some duplicative) to help those with the disease and those who help people with the disease cope with it, along with helpful lists of available resources. Part of a series that also includes multiple sclerosis (which the author has), the new Parkinson's handbook updates a 2002 edition with new tips.
Purpose: The author's goal is to help people cope with Parkinson's, certainly a laudable objective. She brings the welcome perspective of a patient (although she does not have Parkinson's herself) as opposed to that of a healthcare professional, many of whom have included similar information in their books explaining what is known medically about Parkinson's. Perhaps inevitably, however, I found most of her 355 tips to be either obvious (don't fill your drinking glass to the rim if you have a tremor) or inappropriate to my circumstances.
Audience: The book is written for both Parkinson's patients and their caregivers — an important inclusion, since caregivers are often the forgotten victims of the disease. Some of the tips, however, seem aimed at the newly diagnosed, while the majority are for much more advanced patients, those who need a wheelchair and have trouble getting food to mouth. That the author has multiple sclerosis and not Parkinson's makes her no less of an authority; the diseases are similar, and the author has learned from the more than 100 Parkinson's patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals she has interviewed.
Features: The lists of resources for Parkinson's patients and the inclusion of tips for caregivers are among the innovative features of the book. Its major shortcoming is its uncertainty about the stage of its readers' disease. The author acknowledges that readers might not be able to handle the advanced Parkinson's sufferers they might encounter in support groups. But a great many of its tips are aimed at patients with advanced symptoms, and newer patients might not want to be told to check in advance whether a prospective hotel accommodates wheelchairs or to eat baby foods because they're easy to swallow.
Assessment: The book has many of the pluses and minuses of other handbooks on coping with Parkinson's (including the American Parkinson Disease Association's Coping with Parkinson's Disease, Susan B. Levin, editor). It includes some useful suggestions, but to be inclusive of readers with a wide variety of symptoms, it necessarily has many tips that are inappropriate to many readers. In particular, the book would be more effective if it could isolate its tips for advanced patients from its suggestions for new ones. The lists of relevant resources at the end of each chapter justifies replacing the first edition with the second.