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The Spectrum of Hope

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Member Reviews

Workman Publishing Company and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of The Spectrum of Hope. I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

The Spectrum of Hope is a new approach to the way that individuals with Alzheimer's and other dementias are treated. By classifying the disease as a spectrum disorder, the author feels that Alzheimer's will be better understood by health professions and sufferers alike. In the author's note at the beginning, Dr. Devi explains that the words dementia and Alzheimer's will be used interchangeably, but they are not the same disorder. Labeling individuals with Alzheimer's under a spectrum disorder does a real disservice to those who have the disease, giving a rosy glow to that which is very unpredictable.

I thought this book was going to be about the medical approaches to Alzheimer's, but it is more like a self-help book or a diagnostic guide. It goes through subjects like how to maintain independence and fight depression, among other topics, but it does very little in describing the disease itself. It is important to have hope when facing a debilitating illness or disease, but the author should have balanced these subjects with the medical realities. My Grandmother had Alzheimer's and I would not have recommended reading The Spectrum of Hope to any of my family members. The author spent too much time on her own patients and their case studies, without giving enough medical information to give the book a solid footing.
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The Spectrum of Hope was a tough read for me.  My father was diagnosed this past summer with Alzheimer's and while reading useful literature is helpful, it is also painful.  Dr. Devi has structured the book effectively, and I felt I learned a lot.  Alzheimer's is a terrible disease, and anything that can provide even a sliver of hope is welcome.  I received this book to read and review.  All opinions are my own.
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I was very interested to read this book having had both my parents die from the result of  Alzheimer’s, my mother from early onset, my father had Lewy body type.
The disease has intrigued me due to both going this way - and wonder if it was hereditary, environmental  or medical factor had something to do with it.  
This book really did give me hope for the future of Alzheimer patients, my mother tragically spent many many years in a chair not speaking, occasionally you would see  tear slipping down her cheek. and her eyes would sparkle and we knew she understood, but no-one had any idea how to treat the people with this distressing disease.
If only we knew, if only other knew she would have had some dignity in her last years.
Anyone with a relative or friend  with   Alzheimer’s should read this book, anyone who fear it should also read this book, and find some hope within it. Everyone should read this and understand that the people with  Alzheimer’s can live fruitful lives not be stuck in a chair and hidden away.
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I am going to reinforce what others have written about the importance of getting early intervention and also looking for support for the caregivers of those with Alzheimer's. Dr. Devi shares a positive outlook which will indeed bring hope to families and friends dealing with this devastating disease. Alzheimer's Association is another fantastic and incredibly supportive organization:
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When I saw the title of this book, I was immediately drawn to it. I felt the need to find what this doctor has learned, what there is that is cause for optimism in her approach to Alzheimer's and other dementias. What I've learned does give me hope and a measure of optimism. Within the Alzheimer's classifications of rapid vs slowly progressive, Dr. Devi has broken down the disease into further levels, and evaluates major cognitive areas and current level of function. Using multiple case studies, she makes the case for various forms of intervention and how they can markedly affect the speed of progression of the disease. As a former Occupational Therapist who worked in home care for many years, I wish I'd had this resource for patients and families. Of course, most of the people I saw were further along the spectrum by the time I met them, but there is valuable information for those families here too.

The book provides information on the diagnostic process, the various aspects of the treatment process recommended by Dr. Devi along with results seen in case studies (and some of patients who opted not to participate). There is also a nice section on the difference between memory and intelligence, very useful for anyone who has had a patient or family member say "How did I get so stupid?" There is a chapter on the genetics of Alzheimer's and also the use of diet, physical activity and social engagement as means of prevention. Other chapters deal with such common problems as fear of bathing, depression, apathy. Also--when is it time to hire private help. And each of these are shown through multiple case studies, each from a slightly different perspective. And there is much more.

One of the major public mis-perceptions is that ALL of Alzheimer's IS the most severe cases. In truth, there are very likely many undiagnosed people functioning well in society around you every day, working, driving, socialising without any perceptible problem. Their symptoms are so sub-clinical that they and their significant others don't notice them. Many of Dr. Devi's patients continue to work, with some adaptation, for years, some in very high level positions. Of course, as the doctor emphasizes, no two people are alike and no two cases of Alzheimer's are alike.

I hope that, should I develop the tell-tale symptoms of Alzheimer's, I am fortunate enough to find a physician as intelligent, as humane, and as caring as Dr. Devi who obviously has acted with her whole and best self as much as possible on behalf of her patients and their families.

I recommend this as a resource for libraries, for individuals in health care and for those with interest in this area, be they patients or family members.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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The Spectrum of Hope by Gayatri Devi is a free NetGalley ebook that I read in late September.

Each chapter is posed as a question that someone who has been newly diagnosed with Alzheimer's might be asking aloud and/or wondering about on a day to day basis - these questions are related to diagnosis, multimodal treatments, addressing ongoing symptoms, and maintaining one's independence, way of life, and individuality. I felt comfortable with Devi's narration (especially her non-case-study lingo and referencing the conversations that she's had with patients) and how it never points directly toward one single, 'perfect' solution, but several options to consider, due to the age that someone would be at diagnosis, the stage of Alzheimer's that they have, and the range of abilities that they retain.
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I was a little upset of the content. It was a good book for people who did not have any information on Alzheimer's but not for us that have been in the field for some time. I was hoping to gather more information for my support group, but did not feel I did.
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I gave this very good book a quick read. Dr. Devi's perspective is new in that she characterizes Alzheimer's as a spectrum disorder, as individual in its progress as the person suffering. She wants people diagnosed as early as possible, so they can hit back with diet, exercise, mental exercises and stimulation, and drugs. Many of her patients were able to recognize loved ones till the end and function above and beyond society's expectations.

Sadly it didn't give me any hope for my mother-in-law, who has always denied her condition and refused to participate in any therapies or exercise. Alzheimer's drugs alone don't seem to do much, in her case. But it's absolutely true that she's hanging on to language and self-care skills very well, considering her memory problems.

If you have a loved one who's been diagnosed or have been diagnosed yourself, I highly recommend this book.
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I am so thankful the author took the time to write this book!  With the baby boomer's aging, it is needed now more than ever.  I really enjoyed reading the case studies & how it offers hope as one goes through this journey.
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Nobody used to talk about Alzheimer's or dementia much less admit they were worried it might happen to them!  But as the Baby Boomers age, the topic is becoming more and more relevant.  

This book is easy to read and gives some valuable information about the different stages of Alzheimer's and dementia.  It's fascinating to read.
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A welcome and much-needed alternative to the dire picture of the one-size-fits-all Alzheimer's that exists in the popular media, this book offers an alternative:  a spectrum with room for lifestyle changes + medicine that offsets rate of change.  The message is wholly inspiring.  There is no question about it.  Especially when the author, a noted neurologist, takes the time to explain the facts, genetics doesn't turn out to explain much, even though somehow everyone assumes they do.  Once the reader understands that big piece of the puzzle, the spectrum of dementia makes so much sense it's amazing we haven't heard of it before.  The case histories are wonderful;  they thoughtfully expand on ideas that otherwise would remain just outside our grasp.  We wouldn't think of them unless someone we knew had experienced them.  I had one struggle:  I wished more was said about dementia and apathy.  It was just too briefly mentioned.  Otherwise, this is a gem and should be widely shared.  Too many friends and relatives live in quiet fear of their future and need not.  I received my copy from the publisher through NetGalley.  I am deeply appreciative.
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The Spectrum of Hope
Gayatri Devi, M.D.
Contrary to popular opinion, a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is not a death sentence. Recent developments in neuroscience offer hope to those affected by Alzheimer’s. Dr. Devi’s book is required reading for those who fear they may be losing their memory, and especially for caregivers and friends of those already diagnosed. Diagnosis itself is complex, and it’s essential to get an early workup in order to establish best-case interventions, or to sort out other conditions that also affect memory and brain function.

According to Dr. Devi, Alzheimer’s is a spectrum of maladies, similar to autism. It’s not an absolute disease like measles. Depending on the area of the brain affected, and circumstantial factors in a patient’s genetic, health, and lifestyle profile, the label “Alzheimer’s” is complex, variable, and manageable beyond what popular stereotypes have previously dictated.

THE SPECTRUM OF HOPE narrates a wealth of patient case studies, written in anecdotal and accessible tone. Dr. Devi balances her exquisite storytelling with facts about medication, lifestyle modification, and caregivers’ roles. Reading this book dispelled some of my fears about mental decline, and at the same time offered ideas for interacting empathically with friends and family members affected by Alzheimer’s.
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Most of us have known a family member or friend either with Alzheimer's or in the role of caregiver for a dementia patient. The possibility or reality of such a diagnosis strikes fear in the minds of all involved. Dr. Devi shares knowledge and perceptions gained from years of her medical practice treating the many forms of dementia.

Using a multitude of case studies the author relates diagnostic and treatment options plus the many decisions and conditions that patients, family and caregivers face. For years we heard that there was no way to confirm Alzheimer's except a brain autopsy after death. Also, there was little that could be done for treatment. Some of the most valuable points in the book are that these ideas are now myths and that early diagnosis and treatment can add years and quality to a patient's life.

This is not an academic medical journal nor does it contain a magical solution but as the title states it offers new understanding, optimism and hope. I found a number of the chapters address issues that apply to a broader range of eldercare and end of life decisions, not just dementia related. 

Dr. Devi points out that not all physicians see dementia and treatments in the same way. From this book I would know to search for a doctor and support system that does offer positive treatment and hope. Not everyone can find the same expertise and empathy as Dr. Devi but we can gain from her sharing and optimism.

A number of friends and family will receive a copy of this book from me when it hits the shelves.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this title.
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Sadly I found this to be uninformative and dry.

The information is repeat of what's been published. Information that is found in pamphlets handed out by doctors and nurses. 

My expectations might have been too high or what I thought would be informative with solutions and options for help didn't evolve, sadly.

I do a lot of reading and researching for new information as my Mother has alzheimer's and had hopes for some new and enlightening solutions and answers.
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Dr. Devi takes you through all the spectrums of living with someone with Alzheimer’s or any kind of dementia and what to expect. As a caregiver, the advice, hope to get through it and information is very valuable and you will want to keep this book as a reference, since there is so many phases and directions that everyone will be going through during this journey. Highly recommend this book.
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