Experiencing Alzheimer’s: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Still Alice

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

 Goodreads rating (out of 5) 4.31  282,594 ratings 

Still Alice is a compelling debut novel about a 50-year-old woman’s sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer’s disease, written by first-time author Lisa Genova, who holds a Ph. D in neuroscience from Harvard University.

Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what’s it’s like to literally lose your mind… (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2153405.Still_Alice)

I liked this novel because it is scientifically accurate and shows how much of a difference strength of character and a loving and well-informed family can make in easing the trauma of Alzheimer’s.

Margareta Magnusson, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning…”

Swedish death cleaning refers to getting rid of everything people will dispose of after you die but doing it while you are still alive so they don’t have to worry about it.  The benefit to you is having a decluttered, efficient home to live in.

Read about it in Margreta Magnusson’s book,  The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Make Your Loved Ones’ Lives Easier and Your On Life More Pleasant.” 

For more information, click on the following link: https://www.nbcnews.com/better/health/what-swedish-death-cleaning-should-you-be-doing-it-ncna816511

 

Family therapist’s advice on family secrets

Evan Imber-Black has written a book titled The Secret Life of Families: Making Decisions About Secrets: When Keeping Secrets Can Harm You, When Keeping Secrets Can Heal You-And How to Know the Difference.  Amazon reviews it as follows: 

Secrets come in all shapes and sizes. And for families as well as individuals, they are built on a complex web of shifting motives and emotions. But today, when personal revelations are posted on the Internet or sensationalized on afternoon talk shows, we risk losing touch with how important secrets are–how they are used and abused, their power to harm and heal.

In this important work, Evan Imber-Black explores the nature of secrets, helping us understand:

The distinction between healthy privacy and toxic secrecy
What to tell–and not to tell–young children
How to safely confront a family “zone of silence”
Why adolescents need to have some secrets–and where to draw the line
The effect of “official” secrets, like sealed adoption records and medical testing
What to consider before revealing an important secret
And much more

Filled with moving first-person stories, The Secret Life of Families provides perspective on some of today’s most sensitive personal and social issues. Giving voice to our deepest fears and to our power to overcome them, this is a book that will be talked about for years to come.

Living Peacefully with your Family as Your Parents Age

Love’s Way, a new book by Carolyn Parr and Sig Cohen, is the single best resource for aging peacefully that I know of. These two experienced mediators have written a practical and comprehensive guide for anyone conscious of moving from midlife autonomy to increasing interdependence with family or friends. As the subtitle suggests, it’s about “living peacefully with your family as your parents age.”

Carolyn, a local judge and long-time member of Festival Church, draws from her experience in Church of the Saviour as well as her legal practice. Her mediation partner, Sig Cohen, is a retired Foreign Service officer with a keen eye for family dynamics. By alternating chapters, they cover a broad range of issues, from emotional roadblocks and sibling rivalry to economic and legal matters. The personal stories make it accessible and engaging.

Here is the list of topics featured on the back cover:

  • How to address family issues such as unhealed sibling rivalries, parental favoritism, greed and secrecy
  • How to navigate all the necessary legal documents such as wills and powers of attorney
  • How to promote forgiveness in your family and in your own heart
  • How to speak truth in love to parents, siblings, and children
  • How to let go and heal any family rifts.

Love’s Way can be purchased at The Potter’s House, from Hendrickson Publishers, or ordered from other commercial websites.

-Marjory Zoet Bankson, Seekers Church

The Soul of Care: The Moral Education of a Husband and a Doctor

In his new book, Arthur Kleinman, a psychiatrist and medical anthropologist, describes the ten years he spent caring for his wife, who had early-onset Alzheimer’s. and navigating an often unfeeling health-care system on her behalf.  Despite the social isolation and stress he suffered, he also found fulfillment and beauty in the experience and wrote this book to comfort and educate family caregivers and clinicians.

To learn more about the book and read an excerpt, click on the following link:  https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/573438/the-soul-of-care-by-arthur-kleinman/

 

Novels about coming of (old) age

In a June 2018 Christian Century, article, “Coming of old age in an aging world,” Shirley Showalter recommends three recent novels by older authors that focus on themes common in aging populations while also containing elements found in other contemporary genres: confession, a journey or quest, dreams and flashbacks to the past, sexual passion, ethical questions around time and money, and relationships to children and grandchildren.

The books are:

  • The Dark Flood Rises by Margaret Drabble
  • The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
  • Often I am Happy bu Jens Grondahl

Older in the Trans World

The book, Survive on this Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults is the result of collaboration between a photographer (Jess T. Duggan) and a social worker (Vanessa Fabbre).  They wrote the book to counter ageism in the LGBTQ world and homophobia among the elderly.  It includes 65 portraits and interviews collected during a 4-year period.

To Survive on This Shore: Photographs and Interviews with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Older Adults