The Problem of Alzheimer's: How Science, Culture, and Politics Turned a Rare Disease into a Crisis and What We Can Do About It

The Problem of Alzheimer's: How Science, Culture, and Politics Turned a Rare Disease into a Crisis and What We Can Do About It

by Jason Karlawish


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A definitive and compelling book on one of today's most prevalent illnesses.

In 2020, an estimated 5.8 million Americans had Alzheimer’s, and more than half a million died because of the disease and its devastating complications. 16 million caregivers are responsible for paying as much as half of the $226 billion annual costs of their care. As more people live beyond their seventies and eighties, the number of patients will rise to an estimated 13.8 million by 2025.

Part case studies, part meditation on the past, present and future of the disease, The Problem of Alzheimer's traces Alzheimer’s from its beginnings to its recognition as a crisis. While it is an unambiguous account of decades of missed opportunities and our health care systems’ failures to take action, it tells the story of the biomedical breakthroughs that may allow Alzheimer’s to finally be prevented and treated by medicine and also presents an argument for how we can live with dementia: the ways patients can reclaim their autonomy and redefine their sense of self, how families can support their loved ones, and the innovative reforms we can make as a society that would give caregivers and patients better quality of life.

Rich in science, history, and characters, The Problem of Alzheimer's takes us inside laboratories, patients' homes, caregivers’ support groups, progressive care communities, and Jason Karlawish's own practice at the Penn Memory Center.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250218735
Publisher: St. Martin's Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/23/2021
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 81,387
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

JASON KARLAWISH is a physician and writer. He researches and writes about issues at the intersections of bioethics, aging, and the neurosciences. He is the author of the novel Open Wound: The Tragic Obsession of Dr. William Beaumont and his essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes and the Philadelphia Inquirer. He is a Professor of Medicine, Medical Ethics and Health Policy, and Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania and Co-Director of the Penn Memory Center, where he cares for patients. He lives in Philadelphia.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Disease of the Century 1

Part 1 Alzheimer's Unbound

1 A Peculiar Disease of the Cerebral Cortex 9

2 No One Says No to Len Kurland 23

3 Accurate but Not Presumptuous 32

4 The Olympics of Pharmacokinetics 40

5 The Republic of Alzheimer's Disease 55

6 A Young Man in a Hurry 64

7 How Do You Cast a Broken Brain? 70

Part 2 The Birth of Alzheimer's Disease

8 The Old Woman in the Tower 85

9 Alois Alzheimer: An Unwitting Revolutionary 92

10 Oblivion, or War and Madness 101

11 The Essay Heard Round the World 110

12 A Self-Help Group for the Self-Made Man 119

13 A Crisis in the Family 128

14 The Last Casualties of the Cold War 136

15 Hope in a Pill 148

Part 3 Living Well in the House of Alzheimer's

16 The Extraordinary Ordinary 161

17 A Correction 172

18 Discernment 181

19 Some Things to Watch Over Us 192

20 Not (Legally) Dead Yet 198

21 Targeting Amyloid 207

22 Hope in a Plan 214

Part 4 A Humanitarian Problem

23 Something Must Be Working 233

24 Existential Dread 243

25 Caring for Each Other 249

26 The Worlds We Create 260

27 The Worlds We End 278

Acknowledgments 291

Notes 293

Glossary 307

Selected Bibliography 309

Index 315

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