I feel guilty. Here I’m writing for a blog called “Battling Alzheimer’s” and instead of telling you about the newest drugs, or the latest theories, I’m telling you about washing dishes with my grandmother.
But when I look at the research into new drugs and new preventions, and when I remember my grandmother, I keep thinking that a lot of the researchers are all wrong. They look at Alzheimer’s disease as if it were an infection that you can vaccinate against or take a pill for. Most of the solutions they’re promoting require you to put something into your mouth. I don’t think the mouth is the key to Alzheimer’s. I think the mind is.
And a book by a leading Alzheimer’s researcher, The Myth of Alzheimer’s by Peter Whitehouse, MD, PhD and Daniel George seems to confirm my feelings, though I have only read some of the information on the website, not the book itself.
According to Dr. Whitehouse, who spent thirty years studying the condition and consulting with drug companies:
This focus on biological, reductionist approaches to brain aging across our society has shifted the whole dynamic of the field away from caring for the aging patient and his family and towards drugs as the primary means of ensuring the quality of his life.
The book asks and then answers such questions as:
- Is Alzheimer’s even a disease?
- What is the difference between a naturally aging brain and an Alzheimer’s brain?
- How effective are the current drugs for AD? Are they worth the money?
- What kind of hope does science really have for the treatment of memory loss? And are there alternative interventions that can keep our aging bodies and minds sharp?
- What promise does genetic research actually hold?
- What would a world without Alzheimer’s look like, and how do we get there?
Some caregivers have been offended by the very title of the book. “What’s happened to my father may be a nightmare, but it’s no myth,” they say. But the authors aren’t denying that dementia is hard to care for, and they even have dedicated the book to caregivers.
The authors of The Myth of Alzheimer’s are challenging many accepted presumptions about the nature and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, not because they want to minimize the symptoms, but because they are convinced that accepted presumptions “may be incomplete, even wrong.” They believe that the drug treatments that most people with Alzheimer’s are receiving is probably not doing the job. If we stop fighting the shadows, we can start battling the monster.
And how can we do that? The authors offer “simple cognitive, nutritional, and exercise strategies” that may prevent normal aging from looking like a dreaded disease. What do you think about that?