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American Dementia

Brain Health in an Unhealthy Society

Daniel R. George, PhD, MSc, and Peter J. Whitehouse, MD, PhD

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Have the social safety nets, environmental protections, and policies to redress wealth and income inequality enacted after World War II contributed to declining rates of dementia today—and how do we improve brain health in the future?

Winner of the American Book Fest Health: Aging/50+ by the American Book Fest, Living Now Book Award: Mature Living/Aging by the Living Now Book Awards

For decades, researchers have chased a pharmaceutical cure for memory loss. But despite the fact that no disease-modifying biotech treatments have emerged, new research suggests that dementia rates have actually...

Have the social safety nets, environmental protections, and policies to redress wealth and income inequality enacted after World War II contributed to declining rates of dementia today—and how do we improve brain health in the future?

Winner of the American Book Fest Health: Aging/50+ by the American Book Fest, Living Now Book Award: Mature Living/Aging by the Living Now Book Awards

For decades, researchers have chased a pharmaceutical cure for memory loss. But despite the fact that no disease-modifying biotech treatments have emerged, new research suggests that dementia rates have actually declined in the United States and Western Europe over the last decade. Why is this happening? And what does it mean for brain health in the future?

In American Dementia, Daniel R. George, PhD, MSc, and Peter J. Whitehouse, MD, PhD, argue that the current decline of dementia may be strongly linked to mid–twentieth century policies that reduced inequality, provided widespread access to education and healthcare, and brought about cleaner air, soil, and water. They also

• explain why Alzheimer's disease, an obscure clinical label until the 1970s, is the hallmark illness of our current hyper-capitalist era;
• reveal how the soaring inequalities of the twenty-first century—which are sowing poverty, barriers to healthcare and education, loneliness, lack of sleep, stressful life events, environmental exposures, and climate change—are reversing the gains of the twentieth century and damaging our brains;
• tackle the ageist tendencies in our culture, which disadvantage both vulnerable youth and elders;
• make an evidence-based argument that policies like single-payer healthcare, a living wage, and universal access to free higher education and technical training programs will build collective resilience to dementia;
• promote strategies that show how local communities can rise above the disconnection and loneliness that define our present moment and come together to care for our struggling neighbors.

Ultimately, American Dementia asserts that actively remembering lessons from the twentieth century which help us become a healthier, wiser, and more compassionate society represents our most powerful intervention for preventing Alzheimer's and protecting human dignity. Exposing the inconvenient truths that confound market-based approaches to memory enhancement as well as broader social organization, the book imagines how we can act as citizens to protect our brains, build the cognitive resilience of younger generations, and rise to the moral challenge of caring for the cognitively frail.

Reviews

Reviews

George and Whitehouse had me turning each page with wonder over topics I know well, to which their insight brought newperspective... [American Dementia] will enlighten a lay public, and experts in Alzheimer's disease, new and old.

A breath of fresh air. Strong both scientifically and ethically, American Dementia is a practical and engaging book.

George and Whitehouse present a deceptively simple but radical hypothesis: Making life better at a population level has already lowered rates of dementia and, going forward, is the best strategy for preventing dementia. Their wide-ranging defense of this proposal should spark discussion, a commitment to change, and action.

A compelling narrative that describes how we arrived in 2020 with persisting and obvious inequalities in brain health and no 'cure' for the disorder called Alzheimer's disease, despite massive investment. Most particularly, the book explores how history, politics, and culture have interacted with business and academic worlds to create this situation. A must-read.

George and Whitehouse brilliantly diagnose America's dementia and prescribe a timely antidote—a society built on empathy and equality. As we emerge from the pandemic and face a future of increasing crises, this is the playbook we need.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6.125
x
9.25
Pages
424
ISBN
9781421440477
Illustration Description
29 halftones, 20 line drawings
Table of Contents

Preface
Chapter 1. Occupy Alzheimer's! Setting the Scene for Resistance
Chapter 2. Alzheimer's and the Neoliberal Turn: "Politics of Anguish," Visions of a Cure
Chapter 3. Alzheimer's Today: Inconvenient

Preface
Chapter 1. Occupy Alzheimer's! Setting the Scene for Resistance
Chapter 2. Alzheimer's and the Neoliberal Turn: "Politics of Anguish," Visions of a Cure
Chapter 3. Alzheimer's Today: Inconvenient Truths in the Marketplace of Memory
Chapter 4. Treating Populations: Collectively Strengthening the Brain Health of the Many, Not the Few
Chapter 5. Flint Still Doesn't Have Clean Water: What the Lead-Poisoning Tragedy in Michigan Means for Alzheimer's
Chapter 6. #PoorLivesMatter: Fighting Poverty to Resist Alzheimer's
Chapter 7. Turning Up the Heat on Global Warming: The Neurologic Costs of Climate Change
Chapter 8. Occupy the Nursing Home! Breaking Down Walls and Breaking Out "Socialceuticals"
Chapter 9. A Bridge beyond Loneliness: The Gathering Momentum of Age- and Dementia-Friendly Communities
Chapter 10. The Intergenerational Schools: Desegregating and Revaluing the Cognitively Frail
Acknowledgments
Appendix: An Intergenerational Interview with the Authors
Notes
Index

Author Bios