Alzheimer’s disease has robbed more than 5 million Americans of basic brain functions such as memory, recognition, and general awareness—not to mention severing intimate bonds with family and lifelong acquaintances.
As its symptoms gradually worsen so does its impact on general quality of life as loved ones may become strangers, and routine activities like bathing, driving, dressing, and even eating can become nearly impossible without assistance. About 5 percent of Americans with Alzheimer’s disease (roughly 200,000 people) received early onset diagnosis before the age of 65, including many in their 40s and 50s.
Actor Seth Rogen spoke before the U.S. Senate in February in an effort to bolster funding for care and research for the disease and shared the impact of Alzheimer’s on his family. “After forgetting who she and her loved ones were, my mother-in-law, a teacher of 35 years, then forgot how to speak, feed herself, dress herself and go to the bathroom herself, all by the age of 60,” Rogen told the Senate Appropriations Committee, according to CBSNews.com.
These books will help you understand and empathize with the challenges of extraordinary people dealing Alzheimer’s disease as well as their loved ones, who often bear the stress of being primary caregivers.
Photo credit: Still Alice movie still courtesy Still Alice Fansite
by Lisa Genova
Lisa Genova’s New York Times bestselling debut novel about a Harvard professor who slowly loses her thoughts and memories to Alzheimer’s disease is now a major motion picture starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin and Kristen Stewart.
“This story made me cringe; it made me sob with recognition; and I came away wanting to learn more about the disease and able to empathize with those who are living with Alzheimer’s.”
—Kevin Myers on Off the Shelf
We Are Not Ourselves
The novel’s well-realized protagonists, Ed and Eileen Leary, are the heads of an Irish-American family in New York City, who see their possibilities for the future radically altered when Ed is diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s and the responsibility of caring for him becomes a point of contention between Eileen and their son. The theme that sharing unconditional love is life’s greatest achievement comes through loud and clear.
Sum it Up: 1,098 Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective
Pat Summitt retired from the University of Tennessee Women’s Basketball team in 2012 as the winningest head coach in NCAA hoops history. Her decision was met with admiration, both for a legendary career that included eight NCAA titles and by sadness that it was spurred by a recent diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
In her bestselling memoir, Sum it Up, she details how the met the illness head on after her diagnosis in 2011 to lead the Lady Vols to her 16th SEC championship.
Slow Dancing with a Stranger: Lost and Found in the Age of Alzheimer’s
by Meryl Comer
This memoir by Emmy-award winning broadcast journalist Meryl Comer recounts life during the gradual mental decline of her husband, a high-ranking medical researcher, that led to his diagnosis of early on-set Alzheimer’s disease in 1996. Her struggles as his primary caregiver are illuminated in profound detail.
“Meryl Comer in Slow Dancing with a Stranger unveils Alzheimer’s Disease in a remarkable and vulnerable way. Her personal story provides knowledge, inspiration and hope to us all.” —David B. Agus, MD, author of A Short Guide to a Long Life
The latest novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Karen Kingsbury chronicles the redemptive story of Tyle Ames, a down-on-his-luck baseball star seeking a second chance as a maintenance worker in a retirement home. The narrative takes a sharp turn with with the introduction of a female resident leaving with Alzheimer’s, who may have the answers to what Tyler seeks.
Alzheimer’s In America: The Shriver Report on Women and Alzheimer’s
Maria Shriver compiled this comprehensive survey on the impact of the disease, which mixed trend analysis and reporting on medical research with personal anecdotes from patients and care providers. Shriver’s father, Sargent Shriver, a noted statesman and presidential advisor, lived with Alzheimer’s disease for many years before his death in 2011.
The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss
For more than 30 years, this title has been a leading resource for care options and coping advice. Now in its fifth edition, this handy guide offers instructions for managing symptoms and information on long-term assisted living for those in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease.