by Lisa Genova
is a phenomenal book. If you’re not familiar with the novel’s premise, it’s about a woman’s struggle with Alzheimer's disease—and she’s only 50 years old. Alice Howland is a Harvard professor trying to live in the moment as her memory declines. Things are changing rapidly for her and her family, but she’s still Alice.
Only a person with Alzheimer’s could verify that Alice’s experiences are accurate; yet the author’s descriptions seem true to the documented progression of the illness. More importantly, Genova describes the alienation and loneliness that a person with Alzheimer’s experiences as he or she notices memory lapses, disorientation, and changes in abilities.
I think the author also portrayed very realistic emotions that families of persons with Alzheimer’s experience. It’s common for families to not believe a diagnosis at first, and to search for other reasons for a loved one’s symptoms. When the diagnosis is verified, the family begins to look for cures, and they discover that, at this time, there are no medications that stop the disease process.
In the book, as in life, loved ones then begin to grieve the loss of their spouse/partner/family member, and this grief becomes overwhelming at times. Alice’s husband in the book appears unable to respect her choices and needs at times. He is a man in mourning who is not always able to endure the loss of his wife.
I feel that the book is bringing more awareness to the need for all of us to become educated about dementia. Statistically, the disease is sure to touch all our lives in different ways. That’s why we need to start now with education in order to promote a Dementia Capable Society.
I look forward to seeing the movie, as I think that it too will help promote the awareness and empathy that’s so essential to the lives of so many.