Vincent describes her attempt to save her mother from the encroachment of Alzheimer’s disease in this medical memoir.
After watching her father sink into a dementia full of confusion and fear, Vincent was set on saving her mother from the same fate. At the time, Madeline was already suffering from mild cognitive impairment, and Vincent was determined to keep her from “joining the group whose MCI advanced to Alzheimer’s disease.” Vincent, a developmental psychologist, was a specialist in normal processes of aging; she was now forced to dive into the latest medical research to learn about the abnormalities of dementia and Alzheimer’s. The book chronicles Vincent’s investigation into the disease—its early warning signs, symptoms, dangers, diagnosis, and the misconceptions that surround it—and her increased involvement in her mother’s care. The resulting experience brings the love that Vincent has for her mother, and the insidious creep of aging and loss, into stark delineation. Following the main section of the memoir, Vincent covers the state of Alzheimer’s research today, including strategies for people who are dealing with the condition in a loved one. Vincent is an adept writer, both when it comes to engrossing storytelling (“The disappearance of a couple in their mid-eighties would cause concern almost anywhere, but especially so in Nevada”) and in delivering medical facts with significant weight (“Unless medical breakthroughs occur, by 2050 a new diagnosis will occur every thirty-three seconds, tripling the current number of 5.4 million Alzheimer’s patients to between 11 and 16 million people with AD in the United States alone”). The memoir, short and not unduly saccharine, outlines the quiet tragedy of dementia and the way it robs its hosts of dignity in their final years. The ordinariness of her story somehow makes it all the more terrible: Alzheimer’s is a disease that seems destined to affect anyone who lives long enough. Vincent effectively frames its dangers and illustrates the sense of despair it leaves in its wake.
A quick, emotional, and educational memoir about Alzheimer’s.