The mean age in the United States is rapidly increasing. This is due largely to the lengthening of the average life span. With more and more people living well into their eighties, the diseases of the aged are becoming increasingly common. Alzheimer's disease is, of course, significant among these. Unfortunately, research into Alzheimer's disease has not uncovered much in the way of prevention and treatment. Mostly, we have a description of the normal progression of the disease's symptoms and the results of autopsies. The etiology of the disease remains a mystery.
Christensen's brief summary of the disease provides a fairly technical introduction to what is known about Alzheimer's disease and outlines a few of the current theories about its origin and progress. It is often comforting for those suffering from an ailment and those whose loved ones are suffering from an ailment to learn what is known about the disease; however, Christensen's treatment is not likely to provide much comfort here. To begin with, the technical descriptions of the disease are not always adequately explained for the lay reader and most every assertion about potential treatments is prefaced with the caveat that nothing has been shown to prevent or effectively treat the disease. The best we have are specific clinical studies that seem to have helped retard the progress of the disease.
Christensen does offer, however, some advice about how to cope with the disease, but even here the techniques for living with Alzheimer's are of limited value and are certainly unreliable. The most valuable aspect of the report is the descriptions of the behavior of Alzheimer patients. Being aware of common behaviors allows those coping with the disease, especially caregivers, to understand what they can expect as the disease progresses and to prepare themselves for how this will affect the lives of the patient and the caregivers.