Monday, July 2, 2012

Still Alice

Wow.  I've put off reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova for a few years.  I was concerned that it would be too emotional for me, especially when my grandpa's dementia was having him plummet further and further away from us.  I was probably wise to stay away.

Wow.  We read it for our third meeting of our Books & Bars Book Club.  I even pushed it off until the weekend before our meeting.  Then I flew through it. 

Alice Howland is a Harvard psychology professor when she finds out she has early onset Alzheimer's Disease.  The book is written in Alice's prospective and readers get an insight to the things she forgets, (without noticing) repeats, or messes up.  It's just soo sad how fast Alzheimer's can strip a person of everything.  Their memory, speech, actions.  EVERYTHING.

I read in the back of the book that while doing research, Genova found out that over 90 percent of those diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's Disease considered suicide (which Alice does in the book).  She remarked that the normal 50 year old rarely considers it but 100 percent of those diagnosed have.  I can't even imagine knowing what is going to happen and then knowing you are losing it as the world continues 'non crazy' around you.

During our conversation we spent a lot of time talking about personal experience with dementia in our grandparents/parents.  It's so scary to think of it happening to you or someone you love.  Watching it happen is horrible.  It's something I've talked about with loved ones and it's not something I want to take over me.  After watching multiple family members suffer through, I know I don't want that to happen.  There is a point when I'd rather be dead.  It's been discussed.   I completely understood where Alice was coming from when she planned to take matters in her own hands and was heartbroken with her as she kept forgetting more and more.  Losing your memory is tough.

Does dementia/Alzheimer's run in your family? What would you do if you were diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers? Would you change anything?

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