When dementia among the elderly was labeled “senility” and “hardening of the arteries” and was considered an attribute of natural aging, few people paid much attention to this condition because they considered it chronic, hopeless, and untreatable. Research scientist Peter Whitehouse sees the distinction between Alzheimer’s brain aging and less severe brain aging as a “myth.” According to Whitehouse, it’s just a matter of some people’s brains aging faster than others because of genetic and environmental differences. Whether you believe this or not, shifting Alzheimer’s—or rapid brain aging—into the same class of illness as cancer, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, congestive heart failure, and degenerative arthritis places it squarely in the realm of an understandable and manageable condition. Making this link turns Alzheimer’s into a treatable, although still incurable, condition rather than a hopeless one. This seemingly simple change can bring back to the realm of the living the tens of millions of people worldwide whom our limited thinking has condemned to a limbo in which they are merely waiting to die.
– John Zeisel from I’m Still Here: A New Philosophy of Alzheimer’s Care