As a nurse, I have seen the full spectrum of Alzheimer’s and dementia. No matter where the person falls — from the mildly confused to the end-stage dependency — it is heartbreaking to see the loss of a loved one. Over time these individuals lose more than just memories. Their independence is snatched away as their ability to participate in everyday activities fades as the disease advances. The simple tasks of reading a book, eating when hungry, or recalling a loved ones name become insurmountable challenges.
I recently finished Lisa Genova’s novel Still Alice, a beautiful telling of Dr. Alice Howland’s diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s. A renowned linguistics professor at Harvard, Alice was at the top of her field. The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s was a devastating turn of events for her and her family. The novel follows Alice through the year, depicting her steady decline as the Alzheimer’s chips away at Alice’s abilities.
Though not the lightest of reads, I very much enjoyed this novel. I found it particularly captivating that the entire novel was written from Alice’s perspective. We are privy to her thoughts and emotions as she struggles initially with the diagnosis and then ultimately with the effects of Alzheimer’s. This brilliant woman becomes essentially trapped within herself – there are many things that she wants to do or say but her brain no longer allows her too. Unfortunately as Alzheimer’s patients decline in function, those around them lose sight of who that person is. They may not be able to interact with us or even recall who we are but they are still the person we love.
Alzheimer’s awareness is represented by the color purple: “…[a combination of] the calm stability of blue and the passionate energy of red” (Alzheimer’s Assoc.). To represent this in dessert form I made lemon and blueberry mini cakes. The lemon provides a tangy bite in the fluffy cake and lemon curd filling. The blueberry provides a pop of purple color and a subtle sweetness in the swiss meringue buttercream and meringue cookies on top. This was a fun dessert to build from the bottom up – each individual component coming together to make a delicious representation.
Dessert isn’t the solution to ending Alzheimer’s and dementia, but hopefully we can continue to raise awareness and make sure to enjoy the sweet moments in life before they pass us by.
More information on Alzheimer’s can be found through the Alzheimer’s Association.