Feb 3, 2015

The Alzheimer's Solution

A new proposal for how America's health care system can better address the needs of Alzheimer's and dementia patients.

By Alzheimer's Reading Room

The Alzheimer's Solution

As the Baby Boomer generation moves into the ranks of the elderly in the next decade or two, the number of Alzheimer cases is expected to explode.

Without a current cure, and with effective treatment at least ten years away, there is a pressing need for novel solutions to address the multifaceted issues surrounding this disease.

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The Alzheimer's Solution: How Today's Care is Failing Million and How We Can Do Better proposes a new system for treating cognitive disorders.

Just as the hospice movement led to the creation of a new category of services catering to a very specific health care need, authors Kenneth S. Kosik, MD, a neurologist and a leading Alzheimer's researcher, and experienced healthcare journalist Ellen Clegg, propose a similar creation of community centers devoted to Alzheimer's--where patients and their families could access programs of care, treatment, and most importantly, prevention, outside of the traditional medical setting.

Sam Wang, associate professor of neuroscience at Princeton University and author of "Welcome To Your Brain: Why You Lose Your Car Keys But Never Forget How To Drive", calls their proposal

"a fresh look at how dementia is addressed in the United States" that shows how "society's resources might be better used to give more humane and appropriate care."

In The Alzheimer's Solution, Kosik and Clegg outline a bold vision of one-stop centers that would provide expertise and reliable information on a range of topics including:
  • pharmaceutical developments
  • dietary regimens
  • physical and cognitive exercise programs that may help to slow the disease process
  • palliative measures to reduce suffering

Most importantly, the centers they describe would take a family-oriented, personalized approach to care and prevention, creating an atmosphere conducive to adult learning and facilitating personal growth in areas that patients have enjoyed over a lifetime, including the arts, dance, socializing, and a host of other possibilities.
"This provocative book is a must read for anyone interested in biology and aging," says Bruce L. Miller, MD, director of the Memory & Aging Center at University of California, San Francisco. He notes it has "both practical and theoretical implications for how we age."
Kosik and Clegg explain why the current U.S. healthcare system is poorly equipped to deal with Alzheimer patients, why the standard medical model is inappropriate for cognitive disorders, how market economics stymies physician creativity, and how new initiatives that work outside the existing system could go a long way toward providing the help that is lacking today.
"The solution [Kosik and Clegg] propose reads like the opening round in what they clearly hope will become a national dialogue about optimizing treatment for people with dementia, including Alzheimer's disease..." says Booklist, calling their work "cogent, thorough, and convincing."

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About the Authors: Kenneth S. Kosik, MD (Santa Barbara, CA), is the Harriman Chair in Neurosciences, co-director of the Neuroscience Research Institute, and professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Previously, Dr. Kosik was professor of neurology and neuroscience at Harvard Medical School.

Ellen Clegg (Boston, MA) is Managing Editor for Communications Platforms at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, a genetic research center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Previously, she was Deputy Managing Editor/News Operations of the Boston Globe. Her prior positions at the Globe include Sunday editor and health and science editor. She is the author of "ChemoBrain: How Cancer Therapies Can Affect Your Mind".