Fantasy Author Terry Pratchett Dies after Long Battle with Alzheimer's

Well-known British fantasy author Terry Pratchett died on March 12 at age 66 after an eight-year battle with Alzheimer's disease. According to the BBC, it was a peaceful end to a drawn-out struggle, with his family gathered around him and his cat sleeping beside him on his bed.

Pratchett, who created the fictional Discworld universe and who delighted fans with a total of more than 70 books written in a 44-year-span, struggled with his diagnosis before eventually putting on a brave face and tackling it head-on. He campaigned to be allowed to take his own life via assisted suicide after his initial diagnosis, but ended up dying naturally. In the meantime, Publisher Larry Finlay of  Transworld, said, "Terry faced his Alzheimer's disease (an 'embuggerance' as he called it) publicly and bravely."

Dementia Didn't Slow Down Writer

Pratchett continued his writing during his Alzheimer's struggle. As of 2013, he'd created more than 40 installments in the Discworld series, which featured a flat world on the back four elephants that stand on the back of a giant turtle. Always a prolific creator, he turned out more than three books each year at his creative peak.

Pratchett brought his unique sense of humor to the public side of his illness. In 2009, the knighted writer said, "It would appear to me that me getting up and saying 'I've got Alzheimer's', it did shake people. The thing about Alzheimer's is there are few families that haven't been touched by the disease. People come up to me and talk about it and burst into tears; there's far more awareness about it and that was really what I hoped was going to happen."

The writer, who was diagnosed in 2007, suffered from a rare early-onset form of the illness that was initially mistaken for a stroke. He was known for bringing public awareness to Alzheimer's disease, tweeting things like "It's possible to live well with dementia and write bestsellers 'like wot I do'." under the #DementiaFriends hashtag.

Alzheimer's disease claims 500,000 people each year, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Pratchett's case was somewhat rare both in its age of onset and in his gender when compared to American statistics. In the U.S., almost two-thirds of Alzheimer's victims are women. Out of the 5.2 million Americans who have the disease, just 200,000 are under age 65.

You can learn more about Alzheimer's disease on WebPsychology.