The story starts with Alice, the ever energetic and highly intelligent cognitive psychology professor at Harvard University. It’s a typical day, a busy career woman running around the house with her husband getting ready for work, she forgets little things on the way but it means nothing to her, she’s rushing, just getting back from a business trip and overwhelmed. As the book progresses, Alice starts to realize that the memory loss she’s experiencing doesn’t seem normal (ie: forgetting her way home when she goes out for a jog). Finally, at the age of 50, Alice is diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s disease. From that moment on, her life and her family’s life is drastically different. She’s not sure what to do, she’s still young! She wants to keep working! She still has such a life to live! She was about to take a sabbatical with her husband and travel! Her kids are thinking of having kids! What is she going to do? All of these emotions are portrayed at different times throughout the novel, but Alice keeps a calmness to her even when she feels like her world keeps getting worse.
The story progresses through every stage that a family goes through when a loved one is diagnosed with a disease, especially one that effects the mind. Alice coping with losing her memory, while trying to still be the person she was, becoming more confused as the days go on. Her husband in denial that the person he loved and married can’t even remember him all the time, and her children. Her children not only have to deal with her mother deteriorating but also the very good possibility that they too could carry the gene and end up with the same disease that is changing their mother. While all this is going on, they are still trying to live as normally as possible, which is what everyone does. They look for normality even when it might not be there, they start to appreciate what they have/had and try to work through it altogether……
Little back story on my experience with Alzheimer’s and Dementia:
1.) I know what it’s like to live with a loved one that has some form of dementia and it’s devastating
2.) I’ve worked in a nursing home, on a floor with people who have Alzheimer’s and Dementia and see what the family members go through
3.) I actually wrote my capstone/thesis on this very disease and the effects music can have as a coping mechanism
All of these combine into the very simple reason why I wanted to read this book, I wanted to see if it gave the impression that I’ve seen to people who have never been effected by the disease. Short answer, it did.
It’s heart wrenching to read and to be honest there were times when I had tears in my eyes, which was embarrassing because I was reading in a public place. However, it brings to light what family members and the person with the illness go through on a daily basis. When I finished this book all I wanted to do was yell on the top of my lungs to anyone that would listen to read this book and read it now. To understand how much these people need us to support them in any way we can.
Oh and to go donate to the Alzheimer’s Association or do a walk for Alzheimer’s, something to show that we stand with them.
For more information on Alzheimer’s Disease, please visit the link: http://www.alz.org/
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