The Alzheimer's Action Plan: What You Need to Know--and What You Can Do--about Memory Problems, from Prevention to Early Intervention and Care

Overview

What would you do if your mother was having memory problems?

Five million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, with a new diagnosis being made every seventy-two seconds, with millions more at risk. Although experts agree that early diagnosis and treatment are essential, families don’t know where to turn for authoritative, state-of-the-art advice and answers to all of their questions.

Now, combining the insights of a world-class physician and an ...

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The Alzheimer's Action Plan: The Experts' Guide to the Best Diagnosis and Treatment for Memory Problems

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Overview

What would you do if your mother was having memory problems?

Five million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, with a new diagnosis being made every seventy-two seconds, with millions more at risk. Although experts agree that early diagnosis and treatment are essential, families don’t know where to turn for authoritative, state-of-the-art advice and answers to all of their questions.

Now, combining the insights of a world-class physician and an award-winning social worker, this ground-breaking book tells you everything you need to know, including:

  • The best tests to determine if this is—or is not—Alzheimer’s disease
  • The most (and least) effective medical treatments
  • Coping with the effects
  • Gaining access to the latest clinical trials
  • Understanding the future of Alzheimer’sClear, compassionate, and empowering, The Alzheimer’s Action Plan is a must-read.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Check out "The Alzheimer's Action Plan," one of the best books about this illness to cross our desks. The authors, P. Murali Doraiswamy and Lisa Gwyther, explain — in painstaking but lucid detail — how to diagnose, treat and live with memory problems.” The Wall Street Journal

“I fully expect that this exceptionally well-written, reader-friendly book will become the standard resource for patients with Alzheimer disease and their loved ones.” JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association)

“Verdict: Evidence-based content, conversational writing, and a good dose of humor make this an outstanding addition to collections on aging and caregiving and an excellent companion to Nancy L. Mace and Peter V. Rabins’s The 36-Hour Day. Highly recommended. Background: This book is based on the belief that people with Alzheimer’s "have the right to access the best, most personalized care possible." Physician Doraiswamy (chief of biological psychiatry, Duke Univ. Medical Ctr.) and social worker Gwyther (founder, Duke Univ. Alzheimer’s Family Support Program; Steps to Success) compile a wealth of essential information on all aspects of memory disorders for both new and experienced caregivers and individuals with failing memories. Detailed discussions cover causes and diagnoses, disease-related behavioral and emotional changes, available and future drug treatments, the benefits of participating in clinical trials, and more, along with a host of practical tips intended to enable caregivers and patients to live the best life possible. Resources include "Our Top 40 Questions and Answers"; a list of dementia-related organizations, books, and web sites; and tips for maintaining a healthy brain.” Library Journal (starred review)

"Probably the most complete book we’ve seen on Alzheimer’s in the many years we’ve looked at this disease." AARP Prime Time Radio

“[The Alzheimer’s Action Plan] offers cutting-edge information about diagnosis, care, and clinical trials….Organized into a bite-sized format; bullet points, boxes, and checklists make the information readily accessible….The authors aspire to give readers the tools to take charge of their diagnosis and medical treatment, to continue living with their loved ones at the highest possible level of social and emotional functioning, to understand clinical research, to enroll in a clinical trial if they wish, and to understand what to expect and how to prepare. With its broad scope, the book offers an interdisciplinary overview of medical, scientific, psychological, and personal perspectives on AD. To this reviewer, reading this book felt like having a best friend who works in the field of Alzheimer's and gives insider information about navigating the medical system.” —The Alzheimer’s Forum

“Dr. Doraiswamy has done a masterful job of communicating what the layman should know on the treatment, the care giving and most important, the prevention of Alzheimer's. It was gratifying to learn about the mountain of evidence that what is good for your heart is also good for your brain.” —Arthur Agatston, M.D., cardiologist and #1 New York Times bestselling author of The South Beach Diet

The Alzheimer’s Action Plan provides a clear and compelling message that there is something we can all do about Alzheimer’s disease. The book presents accurate, up-to-date information and step-by-step recommendations that people with the disease, their families, and friends can use now to reduce the potentially devastating effects of Alzheimer’s disease.”—Katie Maslow, M.S.W., Associate Director of Quality Care Advocacy for the Alzheimer’s Association and winner of the 2003 ASA Award from the American Society on Aging

“Most of us will either get Alzheimer's or care for a loved one who has. This action plan can empower you to make a difference.” —Mehmet C. Oz, M.D., co-author of the #1 New York Times bestseller, You: The Owner’s Manual

“This book is the most comprehensive and up-to-date guide for the diagnosis and management of Alzheimer's disease. Whether you are a health care professional or have Alzheimer's in your family or are simply interested to living to an old age, this book is a must read.” —Deepak Chopra, M.D., New York Times bestselling author of Perfect Health:The Complete Mind/Body Guide

“I love this book! A powerful and vital resource for people who need it the most. Dr. Doraiswamy is that unique blend of medical expertise mixed in with warmth and compassion topped off with humility that makes him rare and wonderful.” —Leeza Gibbons, Emmy award-winning TV host and founder of Leeza's Place and the Memory Foundation

“A readable, informative and thorough guide to the early stages of Alzheimer disease. I highly recommend it.” —Peter Rabins, M.D., co-author of The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring For Persons with Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementing Illnesses, and Memory Loss in Later Life

“Dr. Murali Doraiswamy, one of America's top memory and Alzheimer’s specialists, has packed this book with expert advice and compassionate wisdom, creating an indispensable guide for anyone concerned about their own memory or that of a loved one. Both accessible and comprehensive, this is a must-read not just for families, but for their doctors as well.” —Gary Small, M.D., Director, UCLA Center on Aging, and author of The Memory Bible and The Longevity Bible

“Memory does matter. Adults across the life cycle are asking questions, many questions! The authors answer these questions for the educated public, family members who encounter memory loss in a loved one, and even adults who believe they are experiencing early memory loss. The answers are comprehensive and understandable, no small accomplishment given the plethora of new information available—information that at times is not only confusing but also conflicting. Ample sprinkling of case studies assure the reader that the authors not only read the literature, they listen to patients and families and take care of them.” —Dan G. Blazer, M.D., Ph.D., former Dean of Medical Education, Duke University School of Medicine; past President of the American Geriatrics Society

“If you and your family face the specter of Alzheimer's disease, run - don't walk - to get Lisa Gwyther's help. She combines many years of experience with empathy and respect for the patient. That results in the most sensible, compassionate and practical advice. Her guidance in the creation of ‘The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer's,’ and ‘The Forgetting's’ Web site was invaluable. She is my hero.” —Naomi S. Boak, Executive Producer, Emmy Award-winning PBS special, "The Forgetting: A Portrait of Alzheimer's"

“Lisa Gwyther is a national treasure. She has been a pioneer in providing innovative care and education for Alzheimer’s patients and their families for many years. Lisa’s long experience helping families cope with the challenges of memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease makes her uniquely qualified to co-author this book. Families experiencing the new world of memory loss and Alzheimer’s couldn’t ask for a better companion for the journey. Her warmth, compassion, and wisdom shine through, and will help light the way.” —Pat Lynch, Director of Communications, Alzheimer’s Center Program, National Institute on Aging

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312538712
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2009
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 305,588
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.06 (h) x 1.32 (d)

Meet the Author

P. Murali Doraiswamy, M.D., “a leading researcher in the field” (The Wall Street Journal), is Chief of Biological Psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center.

Lisa P. Gwyther, M.S.W., is the founding director of Duke’s Alzheimer’s Family Support Program and a former president of the Gerontological Society of America.

Tina Adler is a science and health writer who has also cared for two family members who had Alzheimer’s.

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

“What Would You Do If She Were Your Mother?” (Answer: Take Action!)

Imagine this scenario: You’re a career woman with a family. You’ve noticed that your mother’s memory has been going downhill for a couple of years. She mixes up the names of some of her friends, she’s missed two bill payments, and she recently dropped out of her weekly bridge club, saying she prefers being at home. She denies any memory problems and takes pleasure in saying, “Even my family doctor said I was in great shape at my last physical three weeks ago.”

You take a day off and bring her to the doctor, who sees her privately for about twenty minutes. The doctor then invites you to join them and says that your mother may have a mild memory problem (which you already knew!) but that it’s not Alzheimer’s. Your mother, relieved, smiles at the doctor and gives you an “I told you so” look. You are too uncomfortable to ask the doctor what tests she did, how accurate the tests are, and whether you should seek a second opinion. Back at home, you say to your mother, “Looks like you aced the tests the doctor gave you. Were they difficult?” Your mother answers, “All I had to do was draw a round clock. I passed, so don’t bother me about my memory anymore.”

Nearly two years after that visit, your mother’s short-term memory has gotten much worse. She repeats herself often, as though she has forgotten what she said just minutes ago. She has also stopped reading her favorite magazines, and her hairdresser says she is showing up for “appointments” that she never made. A family friend calls to say that your mother got lost on her way to their house even though she had been there many times before. You take your mother back to the doctor, and this time the doctor orders a brain scan and blood work. When the doctor calls back a few days later, she says your mother has early Alzheimer’s disease and should try a medication. The doctor does not tell you the test results or refer you to a specialist but does transfer you to the clinic’s social worker, who suggests you call the local Alzheimer’s Association chapter.

When you hang up from the call, you’re stunned and you don’t know where to begin. You have no one to help you decide whether you should tell your mother the diagnosis, whether she can live on her own, what will happen to her next. Is it a definitive diagnosis? Should you take her for another evaluation? Should she take any medications?

Your questions are beginning to snowball. You vaguely remember hearing about promising treatments on the news, and you’ve seen newspaper ads seeking participants with Alzheimer’s for a clinical trial—but how do you make sense of this information? Bewildered by the differing options for treatment and care, and worried about your own future, you wish you could ask a top doctor: “What would you do if she were your mother?”

That is just the question we want to answer in this book. As a doctor who specializes in treating and studying Alzheimer’s disease, and a social worker with years of experience teaching people how to live with and care for those with the illness, we are grounded in the latest advances in the field as well as the inside information you need to take charge. We want to help you create a plan of action to get the best diagnosis and treatment for the person in your life who has or may have Alzheimer’s. That action plan will also help you find the best support for the person with Alzheimer’s and the person taking care of him or her.

In fact, the idea for our book arose when Dr. Doraiswamy realized that he was repeatedly asked the very question posed by the daughter in this scenario. In lectures delivered to medical and lay audiences alike, the most poignant and common query was, “What would you do if your mother was starting to have memory problems?”

Embedded in that question, he understood, was people’s belief that expert physicians provide a higher level of medical care for their immediate family members or close friends than for routine patients. To test that perception, he conducted a survey of more than a hundred Alzheimer’s experts and found his intuition was correct. In each of several questions posed—whether about treatment options for early memory problems or the types of diagnostic tests doctors said they’d prescribe—the physicians said they would indeed order better, more sophisticated tests and treatments for “their own” than for the average patient.

The idea that a doctor’s family and friends might get better care than others is neither surprising nor fair. But it is a reality we’d like to change. Our intent is to open up that expert knowledge base to anyone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or its precursors and to those who care for them so that you can get the most from your doctors, from your local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, the leading and the oldest Alzheimer’s support and research organization, and from other community resources.

Copyright © 2008 by P. Murali Doraiswamy, M.D., and Lisa P. Gwyther, M.S.W. All rights reserved.

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Table of Contents

Introduction xv

Part 1 Early and Accurate Diagnosis: How to Get It and Why It Matters

Chapter 1 Could It Be Alzheimer's? 3

Chapter 2 What Looks Like Alzheimer's and Feels Like Alzheimer's But Isn't Alzheimer's 21

Chapter 3 Why to Seek a Diagnosis Now 38

Chapter 4 Where to Go-and How to Pay for It 49

Chapter 5 Making the Most of the Doctor's Appointment 59

Chapter 6 The Best Memory Tests 72

Part 2 State-of the-Art Treatment

Chapter 7 The Truth About Alzheimer's Treatment 103

Chapter 8 The Best Drugs to Treat Alzheimer's 120

Chapter 9 Clinical Trials: Can You (Safely) Get Tomorrow's Treatments Today? 139

Chapter 10 How Will We Treat Alzheimer's in the Future? 164

Part 3 Yes, There Is Life After Diagnosis

Chapter 11 Heading Toward a New Normal: Living Well with Early-Stage Alzheimer's 181

Chapter 12 The Middle Years: Finding Peace of Mind 224

Part 4 When It's More Than Memory Loss

Chapter 13 Changes in Behavior and Emotional Well-Being 279

Chapter 14 Medications for Depression, Anxiety, and Sleeplessness 292

Chapter 15 Finding a Calm in the Storm: Medications to Treat the Worst Behavioral Symptoms 314

Part 5 A Brain-Healthy Lifestyle

Chapter 16 What's Good for Your Heart Is Good for Your Brain: Diet, Exercise, and Supplements 329

Chapter 17 Staying Connected: Keeping Your Brain Active 362

Part 6 "Does Personality Change with Memory Loss?" and Other Frequently Asked Questions

Chapter 18 Our Top 40 Questions and Answers 381

Resources 419

Appendix A Stages of Symptom Progression in Early Through Moderate Alzheimer's Disease 435

Appendix B Sample Informed Consent Form (and How to Read Between the Lines)437

Acknowledgments 453

Index 455

About the Authors 471

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