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Tangled Minds: Understanding Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias
     

Tangled Minds: Understanding Alzheimer's Disease and Other Dementias

by Muriel R. Gillick
 

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Alzheimer's has struck more than 4 million of the nation's elderly and is the most common form of mental degeneration. In Tangled Minds, Dr. Muriel R. Gillick convincingly demonstrates that confusion and loss of memory resulting from Alzheimer's, or in any form, is a disease known as dementia, and not an inevitable part of aging. Tangled Minds provides

Overview

Alzheimer's has struck more than 4 million of the nation's elderly and is the most common form of mental degeneration. In Tangled Minds, Dr. Muriel R. Gillick convincingly demonstrates that confusion and loss of memory resulting from Alzheimer's, or in any form, is a disease known as dementia, and not an inevitable part of aging. Tangled Minds provides a comprehensive overview of dementia, its history, the politics of its fight for recognition, the research being done to discover its causes, and the treatments now being used to alleviate its symptoms. Weaving these details around the story of one Alzheimer's patient, Gillick provides both a human interest story and an analytical study. Clearly describing medical details while fully capturing the pain of dementia with compassionate insight, Tangled Minds is an invaluable resource for family, friends, caregivers, and professionals dealing with Alzheimer's and similar disorders.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Gillick, an associate director of the Geriatrics Fellowship Program at Harvard Medical School, began this study convinced that to be diagnosed with Alzheimer's was one of the worst things that could happen to you. Yet as a result of her extensive research into dementia, of which Alzheimer's is the most common manifestation, she now concludes that those with mild or moderate dementia can lead acceptable lives, although the illness results in eventual intellectual deterioration. By describing the progression of Alzheimer's through the case study of a composite patient and her family, which she interweaves with an informed discussion of the science, history and politics of dementia, Gillick points out mistaken public assumptions about the condition. According to the author, although ongoing research should continue, a cure is not imminent, and the elderly cannot prevent dementia just by keeping active and eating right. Gillick believes that to develop a humane and responsible public policy, society must accept the reality that a large number of the very old will experience dementia. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Unlike many popular books on Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, this is not a how-to guide for caregivers. Gillick, a practicing physician and expert gerontologist, brings together two distinct sides of the dementia story. The first side, the toll on the victim and his or her family, is recounted through the representative experiences of an elderly woman diagnosed with Alzheimer's. The second side concerns the science, history, politics, and image of dementia in the United States. These two sides combine to create a compelling narrative with factual information. Although this book will be of special interest to those affected by dementia, it is designed to inform all members of society. The appendix of resources, notes, and references provide opportunity for further exploration of the topic. Recommended for consumer health collections and public libraries that already hold a how-to guide for dementia caregivers.Aida Marissa Smith, Loma Linda Univ. Lib., CA
Kirkus Reviews
An instructive, consciousness-raising look at Alzheimer's that not only makes painfully clear what it does to an individual and a family, but also clarifies how politics and cultural attitudes are intertwined with Alzheimer's research. To put a human face on her story, Gillick (Harvard Medical School) has created a composite patient, Sylvia Truman, from among the many she has known in her clinical practice in geriatric medicine. Sylvia is first brought to Gillick by her daughter, son, and daughter-in-law because of their concern about problems she is having with memory. The odd-numbered chapters chronicle Sylvia's downward spiral as she gradually loses her competence and independence. While telling Sylvia's story, Gillick shows a supportive family making tough decisions about tests, medications, and living arrangements. Adult day-care centers, assisted living, and nursing homes are imperfect at best, and the story of Sylvia's decline and her family's suffering is not a pretty one. In the in-between chapters, Gillick provides a historical perspective by describing changing attitudes toward and scientific theories about aging and senility, and research into Alzheimer's and other dementias. With the creation of the National Institute of Aging at the NIH in 1975, research into Alzheimer's moved into high gear, and owing largely to the lay advocacy movement led by the Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Organization (now the Alzheimer's Association), the illness rapidly became a national concern. Gillick emphasizes, however, that the scientific goal of understanding a disease is quite different from the clinical goal of treating people and that neither a cure nor effective treatmentyet exists; until that cure comes, we must learn to accept people with dementia just as we accept those with physical disabilities. While this frank and discerning book will be especially illuminating to families already beginning to cope with Alzheimer's, Gillick speaks to a much larger audience, for as her closing words warn, we are all at risk.

From the Publisher
“Compassionate… In the absence of a cure for Alzheimer's, Gillick commendably suggests that people afflicted with the disorder, along with other dementing illnesses, deserve our compassionate acceptance.”—Washington Post

“A compelling narrative with factual information. Although this book will be of special interest to those affected by dementia, it is designed to inform all members of society.”—Library Journal

“An instructive, consciousness-raising look at Alzheimer's that not only makes painfully clear what it does to an individual and a family, but also clarifies how politics and cultural attitudes are intertwined with Alzheimer's research… frank and discerning.”—Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780525941453
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/01/1998
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.74(h) x 1.07(d)

Meet the Author

Muriel Gillick is a physician specializing in the care of elderly patients and adults of all ages who are facing serious, life-threatening illness. She is a staff physician at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates and a Professor of Population Medicine at Harvard Medical School/Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute. She provides consultation to patients at the Brigham and Women Hospital, a major Harvard teaching hospital. Before coming to Harvard Vanguard and the Brigham, Dr. Gillick was Physician-in-Chief at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged, a premier long-term care facility in the Boston area. She also served as Director of the Harvard Geriatrics Fellowship Program, which trains young physicians to specialize in geriatric medicine. The major focus of Dr. Gillick's work is caring for patients near the end of their lives. She is particularly interested in helping patients and their families figure out what approach to medical care makes most sense for them, given their underlying health status, their values, and their goals.

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