Check out some of this fiction with dementia as a central theme:
Alice Howland is a Harvard professor, married with three grown children. Occasionally forgetting things, she dismisses it for as long as she can, but when she gets lost in her own neighbourhood she knows that something has gone terribly wrong. She finds herself in the spiral of Alzheimer's disease. She is fifty years old. Suddenly she has no classes to teach, no new research to conduct, no invited lectures to give. Unable to work, read and, increasingly, take care of herself, Alice works to find meaning and purpose in her everyday life as her concept of self is changing. Losing her yesterdays, her short-term memory hanging on by a couple of frayed threads, she is living in the moment, living for each day. But she is still Alice.
We are not ourselves
This novel is light on racy subplots and heavy on the messy, claustrophobic fog of family life. It is by turns wrenching in its portrait of a family battling illness and plodding in its depiction of the sociological realities of mid-century middle-class American life. At its centre is Eileen Tumulty, who grows up in a working-class Irish enclave of Queens, New York. When she meets her husband, Ed, a young neuroscientist, she believes she is finally climbing the ladder into the respectable upper-middle-class. But then in midlife, just as the couple’s son is entering his teens, Ed is diagnosed with younger onset Alzheimer’s disease.
The story of forgetting : a novel
At seventy, Abel Haggard is a hermit, resigned to memories of the family he has lost, living in isolation on his family's farm amid the encroaching suburban sprawl of Dallas. Hundreds of miles to the south in suburban Austin, fifteen year old Seth Waller is devastated when his mother's increasingly eccentric behaviour is diagnosed as a rare, early-onset form of Alzheimer's disease. He begins an 'empirical investigation' to uncover the truth about her genetic history in order to understand the roots of this terrible disease. Though neither one knows of the other's existence, Seth and Abel share a unique tradition: as children, both were told stories of Isadora, a fantastical land free from the sorrows of memory. Spanning continents and generations, the story of forgetting is the tale of how history can become destiny, how the imagination can transform reality and how loss, however devastating, can ultimately forge profound meaning. It is the story of the complexity, the pain, and the bliss of forgetting.
Three women - three secrets - one heart-stopping story. Katie, seventeen, in love with someone whose identity she can't reveal. Her mother Caroline, uptight, worn out and about to find the past catching up with her. Katie's grandmother, Mary, back with the family after years of mysterious absence and 'capable of anything', despite living with Alzheimer's disease. As Katie cares for an elderly woman who brings daily chaos to her life, she finds herself drawn to her.
Further suggestions of fiction and other topics can be found on the Alzheimer’s Australia website library page.
Places to get information
If you want more information or feel like you need more support, the following websites might be useful
You are not alone! If you need support, or just someone to talk to, there are people you can call
- National Dementia Helpline – 1800 100 500
- Dementia Australia to speak to one of our staff who work with teenagers – 1300 526 576
- Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636 (24 hours)
- Lifeline – 13 11 14 (24 hours)
Check out some things you can download with more information on dementia:
Alzheimer’s Australia Vic Helpsheet – Information about dementia for young people