Summary: Dr. Marwan Sabbagh’s new book The Alzheimer's Answer: Reduce Your Risk and Keep Your Brain Healthy is a handbook for baby boomers hoping to prevent serious memory loss.
Dr. Marwan Sabbagh is a geriatric neurologist and Alzheimer’s researcher at Sun Health Research Institute in Arizona. He spends his days seeing memory loss patients and their families, and supervising Alzheimer’s clinical trials. He helped care for his mother-in-law when she suffered from dementia. Like all of us who have watched family members struggle with memory loss, he worries about how it will affect his generation and his children’s.
For a man who admits to a fear of aging, he has deep personal relationships with the elders in his community. He calls Alzheimer’s “the embodiment of all that is sad and destructive about growing old,” and spends a lot of time thinking about what contributes to successful aging.
Looking at both the personal and the societal costs of Alzheimer’s, Dr. Sabbagh has come to the conclusion that our approach to memory loss must emphasize prevention. This is message of his new book The Alzheimer's Answer: Reduce Your Risk and Keep Your Brain Healthy.
Written for all of us who worry about developing Alzheimer’s, the book is a comprehensive overview of what scientists know about prevention and the modifiable risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and head injuries. A large portion of the book is taken up with recommendations on how to minimize those risk factors, backed up by details about the latest research. For each risk factor, Dr. Sabbagh provides a clear picture of what we know and what we don’t know.
“What we understand about Alzheimer’s today may not pan out in the future,” he says, “or it may be modified by new discoveries.” While evidence about diet, physical exercise, brain fitness and supplements is tantalizing, he reminds us that “from a global perspective, most of the population-based studies have not been proven in clinical trials.” But for baby boomers who want to take concrete steps to prevent serious memory loss, the book lists practical recommendations based on the best available research.
Dr. Sabbagh looks forward to the day when Alzheimer’s is no longer a serious health issue, and he finds himself out of a job. While that may be optimistic, he’s confident there will be significant advances during his career. “I believe we will make great strides to have solid diagnostics in such a way that we will have the confidence to make the diagnosis,” he says. “I also believe that we will make Alzheimer’s a chronic disease instead of a terminal disease over the span of my career,” he says, “…similar to what has happened to HIV AIDS and Multiple Sclerosis. We will change the perception of Alzheimer’s disease”
“Beyond that,” says Dr. Sabbagh, “it is anyone's guess what we will achieve in the next quarter century.” In the meantime, the recommendations in The Alzheimer’s Answer may be our best chance at successful aging. You can read more about the book at www. thealzheimersanswer.com.