Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Lisa Genova has earned her stripes and proven her skill with the well-researched masterpiece that is Still Alice.

However, this book confirmed for me that I am far more afraid of loosing my ability to think than I am of pain or infirmity. I will try to bare well any challenge that is thrown my way, but I crave the luxury of retaining my memories and ability to think and reason throughout. I place much value on the minds of older people. I would like to serve future generations the same way my predecessors have served me.

After watching my own sweet grandmother fight a loosing battle with dementia and Alzheimer’s I found myself nodding my head a lot throughout this book. I drew many parallels and have gained a greater appreciation for my grandmother’s experience.

Watching Alice go through this and realize her own uselessness was horrifying to me, because I thought of how helpless my grandma must have felt while her disease was progressing. I’ve honestly never considered what Alzheimer’s must have been like for her. I’ve calculated what it meant to my parents, their relationships with siblings, and other relatives and situations. But what must it be like to watch your independence fade and realize what a burden you are becoming and will be to your loved ones? I pray I’ll never know.

Another common experience I shared with Alice’s family is how much communicating can take place without thinking, through feelings alone. In the later stages of my grandma’s experience I remember that even though my grandma couldn’t remember anything or anyone from the present, it wasn’t hard to figure out if she was being treated with respect or condescension because of the way these incidents affected her mood and self-confidence.

My grandma didn’t need to remember any part of a bad or good experience for it to affect her. These experiences drove home to me exactly how important it is to not allow these people to slip through the cracks in our attention.

One important positive feature of Alzheimer’s that the book brought out is the unreserved love these people can offer the world. They love like few others can.

Likewise, I remember well, that as my grandmother’s expectations and ability to evaluate my decisions dwindled, the love she showed for me increased and multiplied over and over. That love was sincere and fully accepting. It never felt false or inappropriate to me. It was beautiful and so meaningful during my teenage years.

I’m so glad that the end of the story brought Alice’s family together and peace to her life. Her family worked hard to help her maintain her quality of life and demonstrated several ways she could add value to their lives.

There are some valuable lessons to be found in this book. Anyone who’s life was/is touched by this cruel disease should pick this one up.

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6 responses to this post.

  1. I enjoyed this book as well and the interesting perspective of the story being told by the person afflicted with Alzheimer’s. I don’t think Still Alice showed the end of the story however, as it only went through Alice’s mid-stage of Alzheimer’s. We all know the worst was yet to come, but it was not revealed.

    I’m very sorry for your grandmother’s suffering from this cruel disease and the pain it has caused you, I know that pain well as my mother died last year from Alzheimer’s. This disease will now haunt my family due to our “genetic vulnerability”.

    Reply

    • Thanks for stopping by. I’m sorry you lost your mother this way. And I’m sorry about your “genetic vulnerability.” It’s downright unnerving. For me, that’s perhaps the most motivating reason to keep a journal and to write. I want some way for my family to know me and my opinions and beliefs, especially if I can’t express them or don’t remember them myself.

      Reply

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience Lyn. Alzheimer’s is truly a heart-breaking disease. I like how you mention that we tend to focus on our experience with the Alzheimer’s patient, but don’t typically get the view of the one experiencing the symptoms. It would be very difficult indeed to feel like a burden on your family. I will be adding this one to my reading list for sure.

    Reply

    • I’m ashamed to admit it, but it was pretty revolutionary for me to think about my grandmother’s p.o.v.. I vow to be far more sensitive to those with diseases of the mind from here on out.

      Reply

  3. […] in Ogden, Utah. Lyn speaks about web content management, blogging tips, and she reviews books like Still Alice by Lisa […]

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