With Ronald Reagan's recent death having refocused attention on Alzheimer's disease, those interested in learning more about the progressive degenerative condition can get an excellent primer on the subject, "Alzheimer's Disease: Unraveling the Mystery," free of charge, thanks to the federal government.


The 64-page booklet, published in 2002 by the National Institute on Aging, is available for download in PDF form from the Web site of the Alzheimer's Disease Education & Referral Center ( Hard copies can also be ordered via the Web site or by calling 800-438-4380.


The booklet is a model of efficiency, divided roughly equally into two sections, "A Walking Tour Through the Brain" and "AD Research -- Finding New Answers and Asking Better Questions." These are rich with illustrations showing, for example, the progression of Alzheimer's from preclinical to severe.


The "answers and questions" section has plenty of valuable information showing the pace of research advances on Alzheimer's, the current procedures for diagnosing the disease and a detailed explanation of the ins and outs of participating in clinical trials.


The booklet includes an extensive glossary of Alzheimer's terms and an excellent list of resources, including organizations and recommended reading. The Web site also offers other publications, including a report on the most recent research, and a short video showing the progressive effect of Alzheimer's on the brain.