The 20th century witnessed remarkable successes in reducing mortality from common medical conditions in early- and mid-life. The reduction in mortality increased average life expectancy in the United States by about 30 years, so that a large number and increasing proportion of the US population now live into their ninth and tenth decades.
People in older age groups are at greater risk for several chronic conditions that are relatively rare among younger persons. In particular, progressive loss of cognitive abilities due to Alzheimer disease has become one of the most common and feared problems of old age. Over the past two decades, the research community has responded to the medical challenge posed by Alzheimer disease primarily through efforts to develop treatments for and, ultimately, a means to delay the onset of, the disease. In The Moral Challenge of Alzheimer Disease, Dr Stephen Post presents individuals, health care professionals, and society as a whole with several additional challenges posed by Alzheimer disease. His book is essentially a series of moral discourses from a thoughtful and deeply caring man.