October 22, 1997

Your Name Is Hughes Hannibal Shanks: A Caregiver's Guide to Alzheimer's

Author Affiliations

Sarah Herzog Memorial Hospital Jerusalem, Israel
General Hospital McGill University Montreal, Quebec


by Lela Knox Shanks (Agendas for Aging), 191 pp, $22.50, ISBN 0-8032-4245-X, Lincoln, Neb, University of Nebraska Press, 1996.

JAMA. 1997;278(16):1379. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550160101050

This book is a curious blend. At one level it is a manual for caregivers of patients with Alzheimer disease (AD), full of practical information, addresses, tips, and so on. At another level the book is an inspirational plea by a devoted wife and long-suffering caregiver. At an even deeper level, it seems to be an attempt by the author to cope, via the act of writing, with her own (natural) fears, concerns, and difficulties in the personal disaster forced on her by her husband's terrible illness.

To start with the practical side, the first part of the book is an intelligent layperson's view of symptoms, signs, and stages of AD, followed by a second part on techniques for successful in-home management. Although the option of a nursing home is briefly and competently dealt with, an underlying assumption of Mrs Shanks was that she would do everything in her power