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Published February 01 2014

Minding Our Elders: Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s book informative and readable

Books published by the Mayo Clinic can be counted on to present medical information to the layman in a comprehensive yet readable manner. They make the reading experience seem almost as though you are in a conversation with a physician who truly knows how to communicate with his or her patients.

The latest title sent to me for review is “Mayo Clinic on Alzheimer’s Disease: Your Guide to Understanding, Treating, Coping and Caregiving.” The book is packed with detailed information about brain health, brain function and brain disease. The illustrations are clear and concise, the layout intuitive and tasteful, and the information thorough but not intimidating.

“Mayo Clinic on Alzheimer’s” tells the reader what to expect in typical aging and what to look for that could be a concern. By providing the reader with information that can help spot the earliest signs of abnormal aging, the book helps readers better judge when to seek medical advice.

The discussion of not only memory loss but other cognitive impairment issues that may lead to dementia is invaluable. An example of this is the explanation of mild cognitive impairment (MCI). MCI is an early stage of impairment that can lead to dementia, but doesn’t always. It’s important that people with MCI seek skilled medical specialists who can help determine whether or not some intervention is needed.

“Mayo Clinic on Alzheimer’s” offers information on the characteristic features of each stage of Alzheimer’s disease plus updates on the latest research about diagnosing and treating AD. While much of this information can be found online, the book format allows the reader to browse at leisure, read straight through or pick and choose depending on interest. To me, this format also seems more personal.

Even though the title makes it clear that this Mayo Clinic publication is about Alzheimer’s disease, which is the most common form of dementia, the book covers frontotemporal degeneration, dementia with Lewy bodies and vascular cognitive impairment, as well.

An exceptionally valuable section of this publication is a collection of action guides for caregivers. Beginning with the diagnosis and moving forward into becoming a caregiver, making a care plan and taking care of oneself, the caregiver receives step by step help. More practical advice for the caregiver follows with information about your loved one’s activities of daily living, communication tips, housing and care options, travel and safety, and health concerns experienced by many people with dementia. In my opinion this volume is worth buying for the action guides alone.

“Mayo Clinic on Alzheimer’s” was published in 2013 by Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. It’s available on the Mayo Clinic website book store at mayoclinic.org and sells for $29.95. A 2009 version is available on Amazon.com, however in most cases the newest edition of a book on a specific disease is the best choice.

Carol Bradley Bursack is the author of a support book on caregiving and runs a website supporting caregivers at www.mindingourelders.com. She can be reached at carolbursack@msn.com.