April 21, 2024

BOOKS: enjoying Alzheimer’s

A sensitive review of two books in The Lancet highlights the dignity of people afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease. “Amazing Grace: Enjoying Alzheimer’s”, by Ray Smith (ISBN 1-84358-089-6) tells the story of a British man whose wife Grace developed Alzheimer’s at 56. Rather than let her vegetate, he travelled the world with her, even though she was confused and incontinent, going to places as exotic as the Galapagos, India, and Sri Lanka; took her on long hikes; and continued to have sexual relations. “Ray never lost sight of Grace; he did not reduce her to her disease; he was able to see her as she once was and as she had become simultaneously.” This is also the message of the other book, “Alive with Alzheimer’s”, by Cathy Stein Greenblat (ISBN 0-226-30658-5), a photo essay which stresses that sufferers must not be marginalised and devalued.