Books about Alzheimer's and dementia are difficult reads. Not only are they cruel reminders of a devastating fate that befalls a large proportion of us, they force us to think about and examine all the difficulties it entails. With 5.3 million Americans living with Alzheimer's and other dementias, it's important for us to learn as much as we can about it, so we can understand what is happening to the individuals who have it, whether they are known to us or not. This is a fate that could happen to someone we love or even to ourselves. Pretending it's not there is not an option.
Greg O'Brien's On Pluto: Inside the Mind of Alzheimer's is one of those books that should be at the top of the reading list. Written by an award-winning journalist with 30+ years of experience, On Pluto takes us into the deepest and darkest secrets of this disease.
O'Brien holds nothing back, revealing how his forgetfulness started to unravel the day-to-day details of his life and how he chose to meet the disease head on. He was no stranger to its cruelty after witnessing his own grandfather and his mother succumb to it, leaving him with a "blueprint" of how to live - and fight - with Alzheimer's.
Diagnosed with Early-onset Alzheimer's in 2006 at the age of 59, he decided to use his knowledge, skills, and platform to educate others about living with a brain disease that robs you bit by bit of your memory. It may sound easy to do given his skills and talents, but it is never easy or routine to reveal something so deep and personal as the losing of one's mind. O'Brien rightfully prized his above average intellect, and witnessing its gradual disappearance within the pages of this book is sobering and sad.
The story he tells is one of loss, fear, uncertainty, and doubt. It's about the betrayal of one's own body, the altered future, the coming years not to be enjoyed. It's a story of growing up Irish, of a Cape Cod life, of a 37-year marriage, of family. It's about a lifelong dedication to a profession that revolves around words, words that the disease steals each day.
I've read many books about Alzheimer's and this is only the second written by the person affected. The first was Thomas DeBaggio's Losing My Mind, also written by a newspaperman and writer like O'Brien. I thank God that we have men who are able to use their skills to bring us this enlightenment. We need it.
To meet Greg please visit the Living With Alzheimer's Film Project.
For a selection of other great books that shed light on Alzheimer's please visit #AlzAuthors.
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