Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dementia

While on my current journey, I had the opportunity to read about a women sliding into early-onset Alzheimer's disease in a fictional book called Still Alice.   The main character in the book is a professor at Harvard in her early 50s who she starts noticing gaps in her memory where she can't remember simple things.   In one case, while jogging she losses a sense of where she is at for a few minutes and walks around just trying to find a landmark in an area where she has been jogging every day for years.  She  sees doctors and eventually gets the heart breaking diagnosis.

The book is deeply moving.  You are drawn into the story and her thinking, feelings, frustrations and her world as it slowly slips away.   Day-to-day you are shown her cognitive abilities slipping away.  She tries to keep teaching but she doesn't quite realize that her skills are slipping away in front of her.   She forgets people's names.  She starts asking the same question over and over again.  She develops a test for herself that she applies over the months which is sad and interesting.

In the book, the point is made that when a person battles cancer, they are surrounded by supporters and friends who are there to help them fight their was through the chemotherapy and radiation.  With the diseases that cause dementia, the opposite seem to happen where friends and colleagues are just uncomfortable, don't know what to say, are embarrassed and then quietly slip away.  One person in this book really lets down the main character which is heartbreaking.

I've not had to walk in the shoes of any of these characters as I've not experienced this with anyone close to me but I pray that I would be a rock for them.  Bless those who are experiencing these kinds of issues and bless their caregivers.  Be there for those going through this in their lives.

The book is highly recommended.

3 comments:

  1. It does sound sad, but interesting. I think I'll put this on my summer reading list. It makes me thankful for my 94 yr old grandma who keeps me hopping by asking me when I'm coming to see her again! She is totally all there, even though her body is weak.

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  2. I, too , loved this book. It gave me a new found compassion and a little bit more understanding for people that struggle with this disease. Great read.

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  3. Thanks Robin and Summer for stopping by. I've found myself talking about this book with people while traveling on my recent trip and again with someone at lunch today. It is a haunting story.

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