In 2020, an estimated 5.8 million Americans had Alzheimer’s, and more than half a million died because of the disease and its devastating complications. Sixteen million caregivers are responsible for paying as much as half of the $226 billion annual costs of their care. As more people live beyond their 70s and 80s, the number of patients will rise to an estimated 13.8 million by 2025.
Part case studies, part meditation on the past, present and future of the disease, The Problem of Alzheimer’s traces its beginnings to its recognition as a crisis. An unambiguous account of decades of missed opportunities and our healthcare systems’ failures to take action, it also tells the story of the biomedical breakthroughs that may allow Alzheimer’s to finally be prevented and treated by medicine, and indicates how we can live with dementia: the ways patients can reclaim their autonomy and redefine their sense of self, how families can support their loved ones, and the innovative reforms we can make as a society that would give caregivers and patients a better quality of life.
Rich in science, history and characters, The Problem of Alzheimer’s takes us inside laboratories, patients’ homes, caregivers’ support groups, progressive-care communities and Dr. Karlawish’s own practice at the Penn Memory Center.
A physician and writer, he researches and writes about issues at the intersections of bioethics, aging and the neurosciences. He is also the author of the novel, Open Wound: The Tragic Obsession of Dr. William Beaumont and has written essays for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, The Hill and The Philadelphia Inquirer. He is a professor of Medicine, Medical Ethics and Health Policy, and Neurology at the University of Pennsylvania and co-director of the Penn Memory Center, where he cares for patients. He lives in Philadelphia.