Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of ageing. It is a disease which attacks the brain which can cause problems with memory, thinking and behaviour. Alzheimer’s is the most common (but not the only form of) dementia.
If, like me, you have ever known someone to suffer from dementia, you will know that it is a progressive disease. Symptoms gradually worsen and there is not yet a known cure.
In the early stages, memory loss is not so bad. With late-stage Alzheimer’s, people can begin to lose the ability to converse and respond to the people around them.
If you know somebody with dementia or have an interest in learning more about the subject, I would recommend the three books listed below.
Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey
Maud keeps finding notes in her pockets with the message ’‘Elizabeth is missing’ written on. She can’t remember writing it and has no recollection of where the message came from. Frustratingly, no one wants to help Maud find Elizabeth: the police, Elizabeth’s son, even Maud’s own daughter and granddaughter don’t seem interested. Author Emma Healey, has constructed a poignant tale about old age, how it feels to have memory troubles and to lose your independence. This short novel has an extraordinary twist and is well worth the read.
Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer’s, My Mother, and Me by Sarah Leavitt
Canadian author and cartoonist Sarah Leavitt’s mother Midge was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 55. ‘Tangles’ is a collage of Leavitt’s collection of notes and sketches made during the 6 years leading up to her mothers death. This is a graphic novel which, at times, can feel intimately personal to the author, but at others, an honest story. The novel covers the vast swathe of emotions: black humour, bursts of energy, anger, frustration and the emotions of family. It’s a harrowing read but well worth your time if you enjoy graphic novels.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Recently made into a film, Still Alice is a story about Alice Howland. Alice is a 50-year-old woman who suffers from early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Alice herself is a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned linguistics expert. The story is told in a third-person perspective and tells of Alice’s initial diagnosis and how she and her family adapt to the disease. As Alice’s disease worsens, it begins to change her relationship with her family and the world around her. This is a touching and incredibly sad story, but one that should be read by anyone wising to understand more about alzheimer’s and dementia.
My thanks to family owned care provider Prestwick Care who helped me write this. Prestwick Care run care homes across the North East and around the Newcastle area. I spoke to a wonderful nurse on the telephone who helped me research alzheimer’s and dementia in my research for this blog.