World Alzheimer's Day: A Reading List

September 21, 2017

September 21st marks World Alzheimer's Day, a day where Alzheimer’s organizations around the world concentrate their efforts on raising awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia. While we're not an Alzheimer's organization ourselves, we definitely support the cause: check out this Alzheimer's reading list, below.

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Here are four books – a graphic memoir, a novel, a guidebook, and a poetry collection – about Alzheimer's disease that'll get you in the know.


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The Unravelling
by Clem Martini and Olivier Martini (Freehand Books)

The Martini family is no stranger to mental illness; two brothers, Ben and Olivier were both diagnosed with schizophrenia, as detailed in Olivier and Clem's graphic memoir, Bitter Medicine. But what happens when their tenuous, symbiotic care system – Olivier's care monitored by his mother, Catherine, who he helps out at home – is threatened by Catherine's gradual slip into dementia? This memoir/sequel shows how much our health care system is dependent on family help, and what happens when that help is complicated by further illness.


I Was There The Night He Died
by Ray Robertson (Biblioasis)

The main character of I Was There The Night He Died, Sam Samuelson, is still reeling from the death of his wife when he heads back to his hometown of Chatham, Ontario, to put his father's affairs in order. Suffering from the late stages of Alzheimer's disease, Sam's father is living in a nursing home with specialized Alzheimer's care, and the very opening of the book details the bleak scene: silence on the ward with no recognition in his father's eyes. Sam's efforts to wrap up his father's life and prepare his childhood home for sale are troubled by revelations from his Uncle Donny stealing money intended for his father's care.


Different Minds
by Lorna Drew and Leo Ferrari (Goose Lane Editions)

Co-written by a wife caring for a partner with Alzheimer's disease (Lorna) as well as her partner's (Leo's) own contributions, Different Minds is both a memoir of their shared experiences and a guidebook to other couples living with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia. Lorna's experiences contending with Leo's illness take the form of diary entries, while Leo strives to make understood how he now interprets the world while fighting the disease.



Blue Sonoma
by Jane Munro (Brick Books)

At the heart of this Griffin Poetry Prize-winning collection is poet Jane Munro's beloved partner "crossing into Alzheimer's." The title poem "Sonoma" has the poet follow her husband's truck through a twisting road, with "only the two of us" on it. Calling him her "Old Man" through a series of nonlinear, dreamlike poetic explorations, the reader can't help but understand her simultaneous pain and love.


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