New book sees Alzheimer’s disease from an optimistic perspective
Dr. Gayatri Devi, author of the new book, “The Spectrum of Hope: An Optimistic and New Approach to Alzheimer’s disease and Other Dementias” has been receiving lots of media coverage lately.
In her book, told through the stories of her patients, she humanizes the science, and offers equal parts practical advice and wisdom with skillful ease. But beyond the pleasures of great reading, it’s a book that offers real hope. Here are chapters on how to maintain independence and dignity; how to fight depression, anxiety, and apathy; how to communicate effectively with a person suffering from dementia.
Devi wants to erase the stigma that an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is a death sentence and stress the importance of mental stimulation. Sometimes that means continuing to work after diagnosis, doing brain exercises, and even maintaining a healthy social life filled with conversations with family and friends.
Her main goal for her patients is for them to maintain as much independence as possible. Because Devi has identified Alzheimer’s as a spectrum disorder (much like Autism is because the symptoms present differently in each patient,) after a thorough evaluation and some tests, she creates a targeted treatment plan with a combination of medications and lifestyle changes that is tailored to them.
Throughout the book she weaves the individual stories of her patients with cutting-edge research and advice and answers dozens of questions that loved ones and caregivers ask the most. But most importantly, what she gives us is HOPE. A few points she touches on are:
- Less than five percent of Alzheimer’s cases are from genetics. You are not doomed to get Alzheimer’s if it runs in your family.
- You can prevent the effects of Alzheimer’s by up to 60 percent with smart lifestyle choices, like physical exercise and a healthy diet.
- While you cannot reverse Alzheimer’s, you absolutely can prevent (or slow) its progress with a combination of lifestyle changes and treatments.
- Just as we get baseline mammograms and colonoscopies, we should get baseline neurological tests so that we can catch the disease sooner.
- Be careful about who you tell about your diagnosis. People tend to treat others differently when they learn of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, so sometimes it’s best if they don’t know.
Reviews of her book include this one by Gary Small, Director, UCLA Longevity Center and coauthor of “The Alzheimer’s Prevention Program.” He writes: “Gayatri Devi’s compassionate and insightful perspective will inform and empower the many patients and their families suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.”