Thinking about AD leads to questions such as: What causes it? What can be done to cure it or prevent it? Will I get it? Scientists ask the same types of questions, and this book describes their search for answers. It is written for people with AD, their family members and friends, caregivers, and others interested in AD.
This book has four sections:
- Part 1 gives readers some basics about the healthy brain. Illustrations and text show what a healthy brain looks like and how it works.
- Part 2 focuses on what happens in the brain during AD.
- Part 3 talks about current research and the advances that are bringing us closer to ways of managing and eventually defeating AD.
- Part 4 focuses on issues important to AD caregivers and families, including current research that is finding ways to improve caregiver support.
The end of the book includes a list of publications and resources that people with AD, family members, and caregivers may find useful as they live day to day with the disease.
A book like this is possible only because of the major progress that scientists throughout the world have made. Not long ago, we knew very little about AD other than some facts about its major characteristics. Today, we are beginning to understand more about what AD is and who gets it, how and why it develops, and what course it follows. We are learning about the complex interface between AD and normal age-related changes in the brain. We also are getting much better at diagnosing it early and accurately. Most important, we now have some promising leads on possible treatments. Studies also are beginning to focus on preventive strategies by examining lifestyle factors that might influence a person’s risk of developing AD.
Since the 1970s, research supported by NIA and other organizations has deepened our understanding of this devastating disease. It also has expanded our knowledge of brain function in healthy older people and identified ways we might lessen normal age-related declines in mental function. Most importantly, this accumulated research has increased our appreciation for just how complex AD is. It is now clear that many scientific and clinical disciplines need to work together to untangle the genetic, biological, and environmental factors that, over many years, set a person on a course that ultimately results in AD.
Visit the National Institute on Aging (NIA) Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center website at www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/ADvideo  to view an animation that helps this part of the book come alive.
Then and Now: The Fast Pace of Developments in AD Research
As shown in this timeline, we have learned a lot since Dr. Alzheimer presented the case of his patient, Auguste D. The pace of research continues to accelerate as new findings open more and more doors to discovery.
1910s – 1940s