Inside Alzheimer’s

There is an interesting article published by Geriatrics entitled Does Alzheimer’s really exist?. It consists of an interview with two authors of a book called The Myth of Alzheimer’s.

I thought it raised some crucial points. Of course, biologically, Alzheimer’s exists and that isn’t the issue that is being made, but the book seems to try to approach the onset and development of Alzheimer’s from a different angle.

Rather than focusing on the scientific search for a cure, they emphasis the need to look at ways in which the development of Alzheimer’s can be managed within a sociological, cultural and community framework.

One of the authors,  Dr Whitehouse, states

‘Instead of asking ourselves, “What drug should I prescribe”? we should be asking, “How can I help my patient stay alive, enjoy a good quality of life and remain engaged in society”? We have medicalized aging to an extreme degree.’

3d molecular spacefill of Donepezil

Image via Wikipedia (donezipil)

It seems like they are carrying out a lot of studies related to how older people with Alzheimer’s interact and what kind of interactions benefit them and in what ways.

I have to say, it was a heartening and inspiring interview and I thought it was a key approach to take as often we work, within our service, in a psycho-social model but sometimes it feels that we are battling against a tide of medication (which, don’t get me wrong, has its place but not by any means exclusively).

I sometimes feel frustrated that age has so many negative connotations in our society. It is not seen necessarily as a part of the life as a whole or the aged, confused individual as a part of who they were, are and will be.

Daniel George, the other author, writes

‘We are all going to grow older. We are all going to die. That may sound somewhat negative, but it is reality, and it carries a message of hope. No matter what we do, we can’t fix all the problems of aging. But we can foster a sense of solidarity. We are all in this boat together. And we can’t throw anyone overboard just because they’re unfortunate enough to be labeled with a mental illness such as AD.’

In a society that sometimes seems to eager to throw those that don’t fit the ‘model’, overboard, it is good to see the work being done.

Dr Whitehouse and Mr George continue to update their blog in relation to their research and ongoing methods. I’ve found it useful to keep track of.

7 thoughts on “Inside Alzheimer’s

  1. Thank you for this excellent reflection on our Geriatrics interview. I just stumbled upon your site but can tell you are a kindred spirit, not least by your fondness for Nietzsche! I’m a big fan as well, and love the quote that you draw your site’s name from. In fact, Peter and I insisted on weaving a couple Nietzsche quotes into our book! Anyhow, really appreciate your thoughtful engagement of our interview, and hope to stay in touch at some capacity.
    take care,
    PS-We’d love to publish The Myth of Alzheimer’s in the UK; Peter was born in New Castle, and I’m doing my doctorate at Oxford at the moment. I think there would be a receptive audience here, do you?

  2. Thanks for your comments, Danny – and I’m particularly pleased about the Nietzsche comment as I’ve had to explain it quite a bit! I am actually really interested in the book – I understand its available on (because I looked) but was actually going to ask my manager if she’d buy it for the team – possibly I shouldn’t be admitting that – but I think it seems to link in specifically to a lot of the ways we are trying to develop therapeutic work with people with alzheimers as well as working with carers of people with alzheimers to look at ways of building caring and coping strategies.

    I specifically think that we need to look at practical ways of what we can do rather than medicalising and pathologising things that can’t be done. I certainly follow your progress with interest!

  3. Hi, sorry to be so long in responding–has been quite busy on this end! Actually, a couple days ago I came across a Nietzsche quote that I thought would resonate with you as it has for me:

    “Thinking about illness! – To calm the imagination of the invalid, so that at least he should not, as hitherto, have to suffer more from thinking about his illness than from the illness itself—that, I think, would be something! It would be a great deal!” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

    Am flattered that you’ve thought about suggesting that your manager make the book available to your care team–that is one of the highest validations we can receive. actually, Peter and I have heard from a few long-term care organizations in the US who have made bulk purchases and distributed to employees, board of directors, etc, so it’s good to know that the book is starting to suffuse the caregiving world to one degree or another.

    If nothing else, as you say, I think the book can provoke a less medicalized and more humanistic approach to aging, and it really feels as if that’s the direction the field is moving in as a “cure” grows more and more elusive by the day (did you see the latest data from the flurizan phase III trials?). Is always a nice validation to hear concordance from people such as yourself who have been on the front lines working with aging persons.

    With regards to ordering the book, amazon is by far the cheapest and most efficient method for making a bulk purchase–would be highly flattered if your colleagues read “The Myth” together, and would be interested to know if it stimulated any conversation (whether good or bad, or beyond good and bad altogether as Nietzsche might say!)
    Anyhow, best wishes,
    take care

  4. That’s a great Nietzsche quote – I must read more when I find the time!

    And I can let you know how we find things this end!

  5. Happy new year to you! Just FYI, the paperback of The Myth of Alzheimer’s is out now and much more affordable than the hardback. I know you had mentioned having your colleagues read it and would love to know what the response is if that comes to fruition. Best wishes,
    take care,

  6. Pingback: Does Alzheimer’s Really Exist? Q & A with Whitehouse and George in Geriatrics Journal : The Myth of Alzheimers

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