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9781421440484
9781421440477
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v2.1 Reference

American Dementia

Brain Health in an Unhealthy Society

Have the social safety nets, environmental protections, and policies to redress wealth and income inequality enacted after World War II contributed to declining rates of dementia today—and how do we improve brain health in the future?

For decades, researchers have chased a pharmaceutical cure for memory loss. But despite the fact that no disease-modifying biotech treatments have emerged, new research suggests that dementia rates have actually declined in the United States and Western Europe over the last decade. Why is this happening? And what does it mean for brain health in the future?

In American Dementia, Daniel R. George, PhD, MSc, and Peter J. Whitehouse, MD, PhD, argue that the current decline of dementia may be strongly linked to mid–twentieth century policies that reduced inequality, provided widespread access to education and healthcare, and brought about cleaner air, soil, and water. They also

• explain why Alzheimer's disease, an obscure clinical label until the 1970s, is the hallmark illness of our current hyper-capitalist era;
• reveal how the soaring inequalities of the twenty-first century—which are sowing poverty, barriers to healthcare and education, loneliness, lack of sleep, stressful life events, environmental exposures, and climate change—are reversing the gains of the twentieth century and damaging our brains;
• tackle the ageist tendencies in our culture, which disadvantage both vulnerable youth and elders;
• make an evidence-based argument that policies like single-payer healthcare, a living wage, and universal access to free higher education and technical training programs will build collective resilience to dementia;
• promote strategies that show how local communities can rise above the disconnection and loneliness that define our present moment and come together to care for our struggling neighbors.

Ultimately, American Dementia asserts that actively remembering lessons from the twentieth century which help us become a healthier, wiser, and more compassionate society represents our most powerful intervention for preventing Alzheimer's and protecting human dignity. Exposing the inconvenient truths that confound market-based approaches to memory enhancement as well as broader social organization, the book imagines how we can act as citizens to protect our brains, build the cognitive resilience of younger generations, and rise to the moral challenge of caring for the cognitively frail.

About the Authors

Daniel R. George, PhD, MSc (HERSHEY, PA), is an associate professor in the Department of Humanities and the Department of Public Health Sciences at Penn State College of Medicine. Peter J. Whitehouse, MD, PhD (CLEVELAND, OH) is a professor of neurology at Case Western Reserve University and the cofounder of the Intergenerational Schools. Together, they are the coauthors of The Myth of Alzheimer's: What You Aren't Being Told about Today's Most Dreaded Diagnosis.

Endorsements

"A breath of fresh air. Strong both scientifically and ethically, American Dementia is a practical and engaging book."

- Veljko Dubljević, North Carolina State University, coeditor of Advances in Neuroethics book series

"George and Whitehouse present a deceptively simple but radical hypothesis: Making life better at a population level has already lowered rates of dementia and, going forward, is the best strategy for preventing dementia. Their wide-ranging defense of this proposal should spark discussion, a commitment to change, and action."

- Peter V. Rabins, MD, MPH, Professor Emeritus, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, author of Is It Alzheimers?

"A compelling narrative that describes how we arrived in 2020 with persisting and obvious inequalities in brain health and no 'cure' for the disorder called Alzheimer's disease, despite massive investment. Most particularly, the book explores how history, politics, and culture have interacted with business and academic worlds to create this situation. A must-read."

- Carol Brayne, Cambridge Public Health, University of Cambridge

"George and Whitehouse brilliantly diagnose America's dementia and prescribe a timely antidote—a society built on empathy and equality. As we emerge from the pandemic and face a future of increasing crises, this is the playbook we need."

- Mona Hanna-Atisha, MD, Flint pediatrician, author of What the Eyes Don't See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City

"In this thought-provoking book, George and Whitehouse make clear that, in order to understand brain health and cognitive decline more fully, we must consider the quality and inclusiveness of the environments through which we travel from birth to death. Policymakers should pay attention to this book as we try to rebuild a healthier and fairer country after COVID-19."

- Kenneth Langa, MD, PhD, University of Michigan
Johns Hopkins University Press
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9781421440477 : american-dementia-george-whitehouse
Hardback
September 14, 2021
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Other Titles by Peter J. Whitehouse

Concepts of Alzheimer Disease

edited by Peter J. Whitehouse, M.D., Ph.D., Konrad Maurer, M.D., Ph.D., and Jesse F. Ballenger, Ph.D.
Nov 2003 - Johns Hopkins University Press
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Dementia and Aging

edited by Robert H. Binstock, Ph.D., Stephen G. Post, Ph.D., and Peter J. Whitehouse, M.D., Ph.D. - foreword by Robert N. Butler
Sep 1992 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$28.00 USD - Paperback / softback

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