Neuroscientist Lisa Genova's first novel, Still Alice,
has been endorsed
by the National Alzheimer's Association with good reason: It's one of the few
books that addresses what it's like to live with the disease from the patient's
point of view.
Genova's work with Alzheimer's patients has given her a deep understanding of
the disorder and its impact not only on the afflicted, but on their friends and
family as well. She does a remarkable job of sharing that perspective with her
readers. Most of us have a sketchy familiarity with Alzheimer's and its primary
symptom: a gradual loss of memory. Genova moves her readers beyond their
superficial knowledge to a more profound grasp of the illness, illuminating
consequences of it that most haven't considered (for example, the eventual loss
of the ability to read a novel, as Alzheimer's patients lose the...
Beyond the Book
First described by German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer in
1906, Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia. It is a progressive brain disorder in which the nerve cells in the brain gradually die off. It afflicts an estimated
26 million people world-wide, and of those, approximately 4.5 million live in
the United States. It is the seventh leading cause of death in
the country and the fifth leading cause of death for those over age 65. 17% of
women and 10% of men age 55 and older can expect to develop AD
in their remaining lifetime (the difference between the genders is thought by most to be because of
greater female longevity rather than an increased risk for women).
People may show early signs of the ailment...