Dana Walrath Tells Her Mother’s Alzheimer’s Story in Graphic Memoir

Aliceheimer's by Dana Walrath

By Dana Walrath

In the first few months that my mother Alice and dementia lived with me, she said, “You should quit your job and make art full time.”  I promise you that as a new American, she had never said anything like that before. It was more like, “Dana, you will never get a good job making art. You should go to medical school!” I followed Alice’s updated advice and took a leave of absence from my work as a professor of medical anthropology and have never gone back. Today, I am using story to upend the dominant narrative not just about dementia but about a host of other issues.

Book cover for Aliceheimer's by Dana WalrathAt this particular moment, with so much suffering and violence in our world as millions of people are forcibly displaced, or crowded into unsafe camps, or meeting violent deaths from bombs and more, I am convinced that it is time to take on the collective madness of war instead of normalizing it.  This does connect back to dementia, I promise.

Alice was a daughter of the Armenian genocide, striving to make it as an American in a new culture, as her history was denied, and as she grew up with second class status, a poor brown person in New York City.  Alice used dementia as a time to heal so that she could die in peace. Each journey toward individual peace contributes to moving us collectively to ending violence of all sorts. Just as we remove stigma from dementia and rehumanize those whose brains might work differently from the dominant norms, so too, can we re-humanize the enemy and find peace.

Dana Walrath is the author of Aliceheimer’s: Alzheimer’s Through the Looking Glass (a Graphic Memoir), a series of illustrated vignettes, and daily glimpses into her and her mother Alice’s world with Alzheimer’s. 

About the Author

Photo of artist and author Dana WalrathDana Walrath practices a border crossing blend of creative writing, comics, art, and anthropology. Her award-winning works include Aliceheimer’s, a graphic memoir about her mother’s dementia journey, Like Water on Stone, a verse novel about the Armenian genocide, and The Book of Genocides, an interactive art installation that uses artists books to counter dehumanization and genocide. Her comics, poetry, and essays have appeared in places such as The Lancet, Irish Times, Slate, Foreign Policy, and on Public Radio. She has shared her work on the healing power of story throughout North America and Eurasia including two TEDx talks. A Fulbright Scholar and Atlantic Fellow with work spanning the entire life cycle, other recent projects include the libretto for the Aliceheimer’s chamber opera, the picture book I Am a Bird, and a contribution to the anthology Menopause: A Comic Treatment a double Eisner Award winner and New York Times Best Graphic Novel of 2020.

Connect with Dana




Share the Post:

Subscribe to Our eNewsletter

SUBSCRIBE to our weekly eNewsletter! Be among the first to know about new authors, podcasts, events, and more for help on your dementia journey. As a welcome gift, you may download our FREE booklet “Caring for a Mother with Dementia,”  featuring 15 quality titles. Subscription is through bookfunnel.com. You may unsubscribe at any time.

Support Our Mission

Your support enables us to continue to provide quality resources for dementia caregivers. We appreciate any donation. Thank you for your support!