Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Still Alice

Got to see Still Alice at the weekend, and watched it with a double purpose:
Okaasan and...me.

Although it is the story of a middle aged Alzheimer's sufferer, and the smart life linguistics professor heroine is nothing like Okaasan, I could of course identify with many of the situations and emotions.

And I watched it with me in mind - me and my recent memory lapses.
MY life is far from the smart, linguistics professor too - a lowly English teacher in Japan isn't the beautiful life of a Hollywood movie where people have gorgeous kitchens and stylish bedrooms.

I enjoyed the film. Of course.
Jullianne Moore is excellent. She is catching Meryl Streep up with these kind of roles.

On the whole: I felt the film (and I guess the book too) does justice to dementia sufferers and their families.
I liked the variation in condition, from moment to moment: a woman who is somehow able to put together a family lunch then greets a guest twice; the woman who thinks her daughter must be sick in a hospital room is able to snap at family members a few moments later: "I do still know how to hold a baby, you know".

And I liked the self-preservation acts - the note making, the double checking as Alice is determined to keep track of her thoughts.

On the downside: I felt the film focused too much on memory loss, and less on diminishing abilities (making cups of tea/using a home appliance), and didn't dwell too much either on lack of personal care. Alice went from carefully groomed to ragged, without comment.

But: everyone's dementia is different. Everyone is different.

Okaasan has long been good at covering her dementia tracks, or papering the cracks. She writes a lot of notes to herself about TV programs, shopping, food. She sticks to familiar places and routines, so that life is safe. She is good at answering questions with vagueness, or agreeing with what is said - whether it is true or not.

And me? What did I feel about the movies and the descent into dementia? Am I there yet?
Well, warning signs I guess. I'm an educated person with a love of words and communication. I pack a lot into every day. Multi-task too much.
There ARE bound to be gaps.

I often mix up words for things miso/maple syrup; butter/bacon.
I often can't think of the name of something - is that cos my brain is split over two languages?
I forget appointments.
I leave on an iron all day.
I went to remind someone they hadn't paid me some money...and they told me they'd paid it 3 weeks ago.
I wander the house looking for my glasses/the car keys/a friend's address on a piece of paper.


In the scenes in the movie when Alice is given the recall a name and address test. I was failing along with her.

I'm functioning in my world. But I am taking precautions to check for cracks.

Got to get ONE family member gently into their last years with careful help before we start on the next generation!

I've now bought the book Still Alice, will see what I think of that. Onwards.


  1. I saw and enjoyed "Still Alice" recently as well. I don't have personal experience with Alzhiemers or dementia but I thought the film showed the hard choices that family members have to make quite well. Very sobering. But how did Alice and her husband afford that huge, beautiful Manhattan apartment?! - Karen Near DC

    1. I KNOW! I am now deep into the book and enjoying it. Of course the book is more complex, and illustrates more of the aspects of dementia that I felt were missing or skipped over in the movie.I love the detail in the book of every day life - the cups of tea, the keys and things. The mysteries of the mind. I love the self-awareness of Alice, and then our realization that despite that she has just flubbed something and doesn't realise.