When Memory Fails: Helping the Alzheimer's and Dementia Patient

When Memory Fails: Helping the Alzheimer's and Dementia Patient

When Memory Fails: Helping the Alzheimer's and Dementia Patient

When Memory Fails: Helping the Alzheimer's and Dementia Patient

Synopsis

Millions of people suffer the memory loss of dementia, yet this devastating ailment remains shrouded in fear and mystery. In this sensitive, eloquent, and accessible guide, Dr. Allen Jack Edwards, a recognized expert on dementia, offers groundbreaking approaches to helping victims of this ailment and the diseases of which dementia is a symptom, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, multiinfarct dementia, Pick's disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, AIDS, Down's syndrome, and normal pressure hydrocephalus. Every person with a loved one who suffers from dementia can now finally understand this serious problem and learn to deal effectively with its consequences. Dr. Edwards describes the researchers' efforts to discover the elusive cause of dementia. But, more important, he explains the profound changes dementia brings to victims' lives. Edwards captures the eerie disorientation of living in a world where memory fades and awareness of time and space slips away. The outcomes of dementia can be devastating - precious memory fades and dies, once-competent employees become unable to do their jobs, and familiar basic tasks such as eating, dressing, and even speaking may be lost. Such effects demand that family and caretakers be prepared for anything. Based on expertise gained through years of research and experience with sufferers, Dr. Edwards explains clearly how to cope with wandering, agitation, restlessness, and abusiveness. Moreover, his analysis of support options for the caretaker is unparalleled. With skill and authority, Dr. Edwards guides us through diagnosis and treatment, supplying the answers to such crucial questions as: Which symptoms serve as early warning signs? How are people tested for this disease? What are the most effective methods for helping a loved one cope with this disease? What are the crucial questions to ask of doctors and other health care professionals? Through this book, we can arm ourselves with knowledge.

Excerpt

Environmental improvements in the twentieth century have greatly increased the longevity of our citizens. Medical care can frequently control and cure former "killers," allowing more persons to live and to live longer. Nutritional care has made us healthier, stronger, and even taller and heavier. Better housing, cleaner living areas, and elimination of toxic substances such as asbestos have permitted safer and more complete physical and mental development. Recognition of psychological sources of distress (e.g., depression) and the development of therapeutic intervention have enabled us to lead calmer and happier lives. All such elements have catalyzed the increase in average length of life in the United States from 47 years in 1900 to 75 years today. The number of persons aged 75 and over is significant. Indeed, those living to be 100 and older is becoming a sizable and impressive group.

Such blessings are not without their costs, however. The oldest persons in any society are most at risk for debilitating and destructive effects of disease, injury, and abuse. Since we now have greater numbers of individuals living to older ages, the possibilities of more serious and widespread adverse influences are compounded. One result is the increasing incidence of a condition called "dementia," a term coined to signify mental changes in an individual: memory loss, confusion, and disorienta-

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