Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Published by Simon & Schuster

Comprehensive story of living with early onset Alzheimer's
I thought this book dealt with early onset Alzheimer's very well. It also demonstrated that it is a disease that has nothing to do with intelligence, using the brain, memory prior to onset. Some of the most brilliant and active people in the world can suddenly start to 'forget' things or become unsure. Unfortunately, early onset appears to move along more rapidly than people who show signs of it later in life.

Alzheimer's patients are adept at hiding their symptoms, and the book shows how they work around their 'forgetfulness'. Alice is a brilliant middle-aged professor. She begins to notice that she feels unsure of herself at times, notices things missing from where she would normally keep them, and just generally feel overwhelmed. As time goes on she finds ways to cope with what she is forgetting by making notes, writing on her arms, trying to ignore the inevitable. Even at that it takes a long time before the family finally gives in to the reality of her situation. When she is unable to remember a speech, or is overcome with confusion or lost, she must accept her reality.

I found the book to be a valuable insight into how Alzheimer's might work, although it isn't always consistent in its timing, symptoms and outward appearance. The fact that early memory is often intact makes it difficult to notice or reconcile. Lisa Genova has presented a book both helpful and personal. I would recommend it to anyone who is trying to understand another person's confusion, memory hiccups, sometimes irrational behaviour, especially if the patient is still quite young. Well written.

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