6 Takeaways on Alzheimer's From the Movie 'Still Alice'
This is the week when we discover if the movie Still Alice, achieves Oscar status. Julianne Moore stars as Columbia University linguistics professor Dr. Alice Howland, who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Julianne has already won a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, and many more awards for her portrayal. Just being nominated for an Oscar has generated public discussion and publicity about people with this rare type of Alzheimer’s that affects people in their early 40s and 50s.
Alec Baldwin plays her husband John along with Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, and Hunter Parrish who play her children Lydia, Anna, and Tom. It’s an A-list cast and certainly drawing a lot of attention at the box office. Ms Moore’s character finds she cannot remember words and she starts becoming lost on her daily jogs. She goes to a doctor and finds she has a rare type of Alzheimer’s that can affect people under the age of 65 years. Does art reflect life? What do we take away from Still Alice?
Still Alice gives the heads-up on symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease
Early onset Alzheimer’s, like later onset, is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. They are essentially the same disease, apart from the differences in genetic cause and age of onset. Early onset Alzheimer’s progresses in the same overall sequence of symptoms and increasing impairments as thelate onset type.
Still Alice also gives us Information about Causes of Early Onset Alzheimer’s
Some people affected with this type of Alzheimer’s may have a history of young-onset Alzheimer’s disease in their family. There may be a genetic cause of Alzheimer’s that runs in the family or a sporadic type. Additionally, People with Down’s syndrome can also develop early onset Alzheimer’s dementia.
Related: The Genetics of Alzheimer’s Disease
Still Alice also tells us that Alzheimer’s is about Life Adjustments
Life still goes on and as with any diagnosis of a chronic medical condition we do adapt. In the early stages when minimal help is needed people often find their appreciation of the everyday is enhanced. It can help begin to prepare everyone for the future by changing financial outgoings, housing, seeking role change in the work place.
Still Alice tells us Early Alzheimer’s is about having Good Days and Bad Days
Alzheimer’s is about feelings and change and is not necessarily depressing. The movie also provides a wonderful window as to how members of a family may react.
Early onset does present different challenges to someone older and in retirement. It involves families with young children in employment who often haven’t had the time to secure their financial future. These extra stressors mean that support from the State, Insurance, relatives and organizations such as the Alzheimer’s organisation, is essential in helping families with a young active mother or father with early onset Alzheimer’s.
Art Does Not always Reflect Life
Life with Alzheimer’s isn’t always like the movie**.** In Still Alice, Dr Howland deteriorates very quickly and this is not necessarily the case in real life. Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease so it is about loss of skills over time. That time frame is different and there is no way of predicting how long skills, memory, activities of daily living can be maintained with varying degrees of support.
Still Alice tells us what it feels like to have Alzheimer’s Disease
The Book Still Alice provides a glimpse into living with Early Onset Alzheimer’s
Christine Kennard wrote about Alzheimer’s for HealthCentral. She has many years of experience in private and public sector nursing care homes for people with dementia. She has worked in a variety of hospital, public and private health settings and specialized in community nursing. Christine is qualified in group analytic psychotherapy, is registered in general and mental health nursing and has a Masters degree.