THE PROBLEM OF ALZHEIMER'S is off for copy editing....

THE PROBLEM OF ALZHEIMER'S is off for copy editing....

June 2020 -- I'm thrilled that the manuscript has taken shape quite nicely. My colleagues at Macmillan/St. Martins are hard at work moving into final edits and production. Publication is February 2021.

Here's what's inside "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 prior title was "The Disease of the Century: How Alzheimer's Became a Crisis and What We Can Do About It" a title I still like, but my editor and I felt to convey the messages of the book).

A Prologue ("The Disease of the Century") sets the tone and frames the key themes. The title is from a 1980 essay "The Problem of Dementia" by the physician, essayist and researcher Lewis Thomas. We meet the Harrisons at their new patient visit at the Penn Memory Center. Edith and Ed's sad story leads me to some questions. This disease was once rare, and then it was common and soon it became a crisis. Why? What do we need to do? 

Part I ("Alzheimer's Unbound") explains the changing meanings of what is Alzheimer’s disease and the enduring challenges of translating this complicated and nuanced diagnosis to patients, their families and health care systems. The histories of MCI (mild cognitive impairment) and amyloid imaging (PIB, or Pittsburgh Compound B) are especially fascinating.

Part II ("The Birth of Alzheimer's Disease") looks back over the course of the 20th century to show a tragedy of science and medicine colliding with politics and culture in ways that kept the disease largely hidden and untreated and then, once recognized as common, underdiagnosed and patients and families neglected. This was a lot of fun to research. 

Part III ("Living Well in the House of Alzheimer's") shows the opportunities to address the crisis. Scientific advances have discovered ways to improve care in the physician’s office, home and community, hospital and nursing home. There are also astonishingly promising advances in the ability to diagnose and treat the disease before a person has dementia. The problem isn’t science.

Part IV ("A Humanitarian Problem") explains why and what we have to do. Closing chapters are "The World's We Create" and "The World's We End."

Alzheimer’s disease starts out in individuals. Soon it spreads to other people, men and women who become caregivers. Together, millions of patients and caregivers experience physical, psychological, financial and moral sufferings. Their awesome tally adds up to a humanitarian problem. The solution isn’t simply better medical care. We must mobilize our cultural, civic and social systems to address this humanitarian crisis.