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The Inheritance: A Family on the Front Lines of the Battle Against Alzheimer's Disease
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The Inheritance: A Family on the Front Lines of the Battle Against Alzheimer's Disease

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  426 ratings  ·  61 reviews
An inspiring race against time: The courageous, hopeful story of the one family who may hold the key to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Every sixty-nine seconds, someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Of the top ten killers, it is the only disease for which there is no cure or treatment. For most people, there is nothing that they can do to fight back. But o
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Simon Schuster
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Roughly fifty percent of this book is devoted to the story of one family’s struggles with early-onset Alzheimer’s, some of the details each individual encounters with the disease, how it progresses, and the toll it takes on other family members. The remaining percentage is devoted to the progress of the study of what we now call Alzheimer’s, from the identification of the disease in 1906 by Alois Alzheimer, a German psychiatrist. However, there are references in literature da
Feb 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People Interested in Alzheimer's
In the United States, the DeMoes and the Noonans had the difficult but available option of choosing to know their fate. Some did, and some didn't. Genetic counselors guided them through those decisions, gave them variables to think about and advice that helped each person make this very individual choice. But in Colombia, there were no genetic counselors, and without them, or a means of preventing the disease, doctors deemed the knowledge too dangerous to share. Lopera didn't want to play God.

Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Speechless. What a magnificent book that delves deep into the science behind Alzheimer's disease and the search for a cure, and delves even deeper into the story of the incredible DeMoe family. I would highly recommend this book, especially if you have ever witnessed firsthand the devastating impact of Alzheimer's disease. ...more
Mar 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For me – for many people – few things are as frightening as the loss of self that Alzheimer’s inflicts on its victims. Writing with clarity, compassion, and insight, Kapsambelis brings us into the DeMoe family, cursed with early-onset Alzheimer’s, and shows us the damage wrought by the disease, the burden it places on everyone in its orbit, and the courage and strength of the family to give whatever they can to the greater fight against the disease. This powerful book also spells out the history ...more
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"The Inheritance is the story of the DeMoe family, plagued by familial, early onset Alzheimer's disease. It is a story of heroes making extraordinary contributions to scientific research, of crusaders driven to change the course of this disease for the sake of their children, the next generation, all of us. I felt honored to read this important book, bearing witness to a historic moment in the quest to cure Alzheimer's."—Lisa Genova ...more
Mary & Tom
Apr 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Who isn't freaked out by the idea of having Alzheimer's disease? My grandmother and two aunts have passed away as the result of this sneaky killer. So to face my fears, I read this book. Knowledge is power. And sometimes scary too.

Alzheimer's is the 6th leading cause of death in the US including deaths from accidents. No cure. This book follows the DeMoe family of North Dakota who unfortunately have a rare dominant gene for early onset Alzheimer's. 5 of 6 adults in this family have the disease
Oct 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is a mixture of science and narrative non-fiction. Chapters alternate between the research that was conducted (and continues on) to find the cause/cure of Alzheimer's and that of the DeMoe family. The DeMoe family was selected to study as they had the most devastating form of the disease that there is: early onset Alzheimer’s, an inherited genetic mutation that causes the disease in 100 percent of cases, and has a 50 percent chance of being passed onto the next generation. The chapters ...more
Chris Loveless
Jun 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021-books
Book about the history of Alzheimer’s. At the time of publication, it’s the number 6 killer in the US. Well researched. Book shares stories of 3 families who have been ravaged by Alzheimer’s. In a number of instances these folks decided to have their brains donated to science for us to study their brains. Some instances of the disease being inherited by 3 generations of folks or by 75% of family impacted. Awful. Author shares stories of family members deciding on whether to get tested and whethe ...more
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book tells the story of the DeMoe family and their battle with Alzheimer's and also tells the story of the battle against Alzheimer's by researchers and doctors. There still is no cure for Alzheimer's, but it isn't because there aren't caring doctors and researchers out there. This is an informative read and one that anyone who is touched by Alzheimer's should read. ...more
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Thank you Net Galley for the free advanced reading copy.

Fascinating account of one family's tragic inheritance of the early onset Alzheimer's gene which is an autosomal dominant. Five kids in the family of six have the gene and know it, the youngest has to be the one to make all the decisions about their care.

Also incredible that in the last fifty years our understanding of this disorder really has not really advanced . It is now the sixth most common cause of death in the US and we have nothi
William Schram
Alzheimer's Disease is one of the worst things that I can think of happening to a person. At least with a heart attack or in some cases with a stroke, you are still capable of remembering who you are. Alzheimer's is an atrocious illness, afflicting both the patient and the caretaker as the caretaker is prone to be the target of patient's mood swings and day to day problems. While it was first systematically named and categorized in 1906 by Alois Alzheimer, this condition has been around for mill ...more
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book follows a family carrying one of the genes for early onset Alzheimer's Disease and some of the scientists and research going on to try to find a cure. We get to know many individuals in this large family from North Dakota, and are shocked when again and again they find that they are carriers of the gene that destines them to loosing their memories, cognitive skills, body functions and lives, with symptoms starting in their mid-forties and death by their early fifties. It was interestin ...more
While not an easy book to read (and I took some breaks in my reading), the author tempers the technical and science with the personal stories, primarily of the DeMoe family. Because of a genetic "abnormality", this family has a preponderance of early on-set Alzheimer's disease. The six adult DeMoe children, along with some cousins and descendants, take part in research studies. Five of the six have the mutation and develope the disease. The book was published in 2017 and I wonder what further de ...more
Nov 01, 2017 rated it liked it
The book was well-done with a lot of information, but I found it to get bogged down often. While the DeMoe family was the main focus, there was a second family (Noonan) that was talked about a lot, without a helpful family tree like given to the demoes, so I would lose track of who was who. Some of the science/clinical trial chapters seemed to drag at times, and there were repetitions occasionally. I learned some things, but maybe would have liked some brain images or other visual aids for the d ...more
Jul 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating book on many levels--the topic of Alzheimer's Disease and the focus on a North Dakota family with the genetic disposition toward the disease. I appreciated the way the book alternated between the story of the DeMoe family with research and developments in the study of Alzheimer's Disease. I recognized things from my own life's journey with a grandmother who had dementia and a father who developed dementia late in life after a severe fall and brain trauma. I learned that th ...more
Christina Dudley
May 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A fascinating, comprehensive, well-researched book that traces the history of Alzheimer's research and treatment from its discovery to 2014, while at the same time telling the moving story of the DeMoe family who, through a genetic mutation, suffer from the early-onset variety across generations.

The author writes with clarity and sympathy, and the book gave me new things to think about in how we will face later stages of my MIL's dementia.

I wish more had been said about possible causes in the
Jennifer Record
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was so well written- a perfect blend of personal experiences of one family and tracking the scientific research of the disease. I can’t recommend this book enough for anyone personally affected by Alzheimer’s. It gave me the hope and insight I’ve craved as I watch my matriarchy succumb to this horrific disease. A step- grandmother has passed, paternal grandmother about to enter hospice care, and I am a caregiver to my maternal grandmother. I fear being struck by this disease more than ...more
Susan Chambers
Oct 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Compelling, passionate and inspiring book about Alzheimer's and families, caregivers and science. This book is for everyone and certainly hit the mark for me as Alzheimer's galloped through my father's side of our family. The families stunned me with their openness, courage, help, and sacrifice. I owe them a debt. I hope they will be rewarded somehow....maybe their contribution is enough for them. I wish I could do more. I'm part of a DIAN registry. I participated in a spit test and mailed it in ...more
Jill Hennessy
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
For anyone interested in the battle against Alzheimer's Disease (and it is a battle), this is a must read. It follows the lives of the DeMeo family, an ordinary family faced with an extraordinary burden, one they manage with strength and grace and courage. The author follows the family as the disease creeps into each generation, and combines their story with the scientific research that has been done and continues to be done to beat this disease. There is no cure, but there are scientists, patie ...more
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 9-11, allen, dementia
Author, Niki Kapsambelis, did a thorough and excellent job researching Alzheimier's disease in order to write this book. She wrote what she learned in language and style that made it easy and interesting for laymen to comprehend. Not only does the reader clearly learn about current findings, but also learns of the personal lives of the doctors, scientists, sufferers of the disease and their families. This science book reads like a novel all the while delivering current information on what has be ...more
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fascinating study of families with an inherited gene that causes Alzheimer's and of the history, research and discoveries concerning the disease in general. Quite interesting. At the same time I found myself questioning my own cognition, something that often happens when one studies a particular disease, I believe.

If nothing else, this motivated me to continue physical activity and healthful nutrition!
Aug 01, 2017 rated it liked it
I gave this book three stars because it was full of helpful information but the narrative was written in a choppy style that made it hard for me to be drawn into. It is still a book worth reading if you are interested or affected by Alzheimer's. The family the book depicts is a committed, generous family. I am glad to have learned of their sacrifices for the good of future generations who may be impacted by Alzheimer's. ...more
Karen Midgarden
Jul 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heartbreaking. Courageous. This book not only explains the scientific part of the disease but illustrates the human toll it extracts. I highly recommend this book.

Since North Dakota is a small state, most native North Dakotans will find a connection to this family. Their courage in participating in the studies, the determination that Kerala presents and the strong family bond they retained is moving.
Rick Reitzug
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
A powerful story that traces the impact of Alzheimer's on a family and their commitment to being part of finding a solution for this terrible disease. The family's story is interspersed with a history of research on Alzheimer's. These sections are quite technical and disrupt the flow of the more personal family story. Nonetheless, a powerful book. ...more
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well done book on Alzheimer's particularly autosomal Alzheimer's. I have so much respect for the families and people that they allowed their story to be shared. I have an uncle with Alzheimer's due to a TBI in his early 40s. While his cause is different, I still found this book for informative about the history of the disease and the ongoing research into a cure. ...more
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
A comprehensive tale that combines the science of Alzheimer's with one family's battle with the disease. This book is both fascinating and horrifying; especially if you have had family members afflicted with Alzheimer's. While the writing can at times be disjointed, this is a must read for anyone who may inherit this condition, or who is a caregiver for someone suffering. ...more
Corrine Donley
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Touching Story of Scientific Research and Courageous Families

A basic scientist myself, I am not familiar with such good writing with emotion as well as facts. Kapsambelis shows us how, and keeps our eye on developments until the last. If you want to know about Alzheimer's, this is a good start.

Aug 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As a healthcare professional I really enjoyed this read. It intertwines both the history of Alzheimer's disease research and firsthand devastation of its effects on multiple generations of one family. I commend the DeMoe family and their commitment to ongoing research which is slow, frustrating, and unlikely to benefit them immediately. The North Dakota ties in this book also warmed my heart. ...more
Carrie Jensen
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Read this in one day. I found it hard to put down. Very compelling story of a family's heartbreaking and very personal struggle with Alzheimer's disease through multiple generations. This disease affects so many, and we all have so much to learn from their story - what it is to be a family and what it is to be human. I highly recommend it! ...more
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very involved story of the quest to find medicines to slow the progress of Alzheimer’s and perhaps cure the devastating disease. The history of scientific inquiry is intertwined with that of family groups having genetic markers for the illness. How brave the DeMoe family and the Colombians participating in the research are.
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