Good advice about Alzheimer's, dementia and staying sharp

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James M. Berklan
James M. Berklan

If there's anything long-term care professionals know, it's that there is a lot of Alzheimer's disease and other dementia coming at them. Every day. 

The Alzheimer's Association says there are 5.2 million Americans 65 and older who currently have the disease. That number is projected to soar to nearly 14 million by 2050 if a cure or means of prevention isn't discovered. 

The National Center for Health Statistics says that more than half (50.4%) of nursing home residents had Alzheimer's as of 2014, a number that has only grown. 

So there is no question providers see a lot of Alzheimer's. They also encounter a lot of individuals whose family members struggle with the debilitating condition.

But what's sometimes missing is the right perspective and answers on this frustrating, deadly condition. That's why publisher John Wiley & Sons may become well known in the caregiving community.

They Wiley crew can call just about anyone a dummy and get away with it — even making grateful friends along the way.

New on the market are a pair of reference books in the Wileys' popular "for Dummies" series that, frankly, I can't believe weren't created long ago.

"Alzheimer's & Dementia for Dummies" and "Staying Sharp for Dummies" are hot off the press and answer a lot of questions. They join 2,700 other "Dummies" titles that have sold more than 200 million books since 1991, when "DOS for Dummies" became the first non-intimidating self-help title in the series.

Lest any serious healthcare provider worry, these tomes in the popular series ("Ukelele Starter Pack for Dummies," ""Living the Boomer Life for Dummies," "Acne for Dummies," etc.) come with heavy street cred. Both are produced in conjunction with the American Geriatric Society and the Health in Aging Foundation. 

"Alzheimer's" delivers more than 400 pages of finely diced information for consumers and caregivers. "Staying Sharp" includes just shy of 600 advice-laden pages. They are written in straightforward language and sprinkle in tips, reminders and bullet-pointed lists to make every chapter a treasure chest.

If every page isn't written directly for the professional caregiver (though some are), who cares? You need to know not only your professional p's and q's but also what your charges and their family members may be thinking and going through.

These fit the bill.

These soft-cover books arrived just Monday and I expect it will take a while to get through them. Besides, they're meant to be savored and not necessarily read cover-to-cover. The recommended method is to flip to a chapter here, a chapter there, and inform yourself as needed.

"All you need is a desire to investigate how your brain and body can work together as beneficially as possible," write the authors in the introduction to "Staying Sharp."

Desire, brain and body. It's an approach that serves both titles — and life in general.

Follow James M. Berklan @JimBerklan.


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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Marty Stempniak.