Friday, August 24, 2012

Book Review: Love, Loss, and Laughter

Why do I appreciate this book? Let me count the ways.
  1. I read about this book on The Alzheimer's Reading Room here and knew I had to get it and I have not been disappointed. If Maria Shriver's book, What's Happening to Grandpa? reviewed here is great for kids, Dr. Cathy Greeblat's Love, Loss, and Laughter: Seeing Alzheimer's Differently is perfect for the carer and the family of the person with dementia.
  2. The pictures do justice to those suffering with dementia illnesses and Alzheimer's and the captions that go with them show so much love and respect. Contrast this with the very AARP pictures that I wrote about here. Rather the book contends that "people with dementia don't disappear unless we disappear from them"(p. xiv). The pictures are from all over the world and do show wonderful carers and people being cared for. Richard Taylor (man with dementia) writes eloquently in this book.
  3. The book contains not just Greenblatt's writing, but wonderful insightful quotes from everyone including Princess Yasmin Aga Khan to Bob DeMarco of The Alzheimer's Reading Room.
  4. Specific ways in which carers can bring to life the people they care for are mentioned. Basically they highlight what the person used to like to do or what their career was. I have been worried about all the TV my husband watches, but then I realized that movies have always been his thing. He has a great collection of them and uses his mind to operate the controls needed to view. He has his favorites and while this used to bother me (Don't you get tired of the same movies? I would think), nonetheless it is who he is. It is his hobby that he enjoys.
  5. The theme of the book seems to be:
    Enhancement of personhood and efforts to maintain quality of life should be our highest priorities. (p. ix)
    This is illustrated with all the pictures and captions/notes for the pictures that Cathy Greenblat included.
  6. Should we ever need a nursing home placement, the book contains wisdom in selecting one including web sites to choose one in our area.
  7. More than any other book I have read on the subject, this one highlights the need of our loved ones to feel useful. No, I am not being condescending when I ask my husband's opinion on something, or have him move boxes for me, but rather we both feel better about the situation. Currently I have carpal tunnel again and do need his help.
  8. In the moment. Oh yes. Sally's husband and my husband do not always remember what happened earlier in the day. Sally and Jake took a week vacation and when they were home Jake had forgotten all about it. I mentioned this to DH and he said sympathetically (despite his own short-term memory) "Is Jake that bad?" Life then can be celebrated in the moment. This may be why I take so many pictures of my husband's moments. And it actually might not be a bad idea to live in the moment for all of us. We can't change the past and the future is in the LORD's hands.
  9. The best practices include letting patients socialize. I see this in our life and also in the nursing homes described in the book.
  10. I hadn't read this before, but have felt that my husband is indeed learning new things. "If we get past the stigma, we realize that it's always possible to build cognitive abilities, and that people have the ability to progress right until the end"(p. 71). The book specifies using Montessori principles as outlined by psychologist Cameron Camp. I had only been using one technique with my husband and now have more ideas for helping him learn.
  11. Many times I read about bloggers who are angry with their loved ones who, yes, can be very difficult. Yet Michael Verde, President of the Memory Bridge in Chicago, is quoted:
    Either we learn how to love each other, or we keep disappearing to each other. (p.88)
    Indeed being a caregiver lets us appreciate life and each day; we don't have to grieve yet. They are still here.
  12. Perhaps worth the price of this book ($24.95--but I got a used copy), is the chart on pp. 104-105. It tells the caregiver what to do and not to do for oppositon, aberrant behanvior, agitation, aggression, delirium, hallucinations, and so forth.
After finishing this book today, I reflected that I can only do this excellent lovegiving with the LORD's help. Others have all over the world as this book chronicles.  Today I heard on The Daily Audio Bible:
Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore . . . be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
 (I Corinthians 15:57, 57)


  1. It sounds like a very helpful book. You did a great job on the review. I hope you are doing well.

  2. A great and informative book review! Think of you so often and hope you all are doing well.
    Hugs and prayers,