Transforming The Alzheimer's Experience (New Book Review)

Transforming the Alzheimer’s Experience

Share a Great Life with Alzheimer’s, Cancer, or Any Diagnosis
by David Lazaroff
ISBN-10: 0985163127
ISBN-13: 978-0985163129
Expressionist Press LLC
Denver, CO

“Pain is inevitable; Suffering is optional.
 ~ Buddha
As In Life
David Lazaroff is an inspired man with a practical mission: to help people with Alzheimer’s disease and their care-takers not only make the most of a bad situation, but actually thrive on the challenge, and feel real peace and joy within any situation in life. Though this sounds like a tall order – given the devastating effects of this horrible illness on the mind and body – Lazaroff’s ground-breaking book, Live It Up!  Unexpectedly delivers, with unusual insight and wisdom.
Subtitled, Share a Great Life with Alzheimer’s, Cancer, or Any Diagnosis, this friendly little book conveys in less than a hundred pages what stacks of advice manuals miss: How to actually chose happiness while witnessing the slow cognitive and physical deterioration and inevitable death of a dear one with an incurable disease.
Lazaroff - a practiced yogi and meditator - is more than qualified to counsel, after personally attending to his dear old friend and Alzheimer’s patient, Carl, for seven years. He shares simple but valuable insights about sensing a patient’s needs and abilities, emotional safety, focusing on the possible, enhancing the environment, and uplifting moods and energy. His well-earned wisdom turns out to be relevant to all us mortals, subject as we are to the inevitable weakness, dysfunctions and breakdowns of life.
Like a Child
The main premise is that the causes of happiness are as omnipresent as the causes of suffering, and we really do always have the choice to extrapolate them from life, in real time: Enjoy what is possible, or despair over what is not. Bemoan fate or affirm life. Dwell on the sorrow or find the joy.  “I insist we interrupt suffering with joy,” says Lazaroff. “The alternative is unimpeded and uninterrupted suffering. I am not OK with that, are you?”
The progressive dementia of Alzheimer’s is the perfect proving ground for this practical/spiritual skill of situational transformation. The disease slowly steals away your friend’s mental skills, but not their sensitivities. He or she gradually loses memory, but can simultaneously become more responsive to real-time stimulation. Like a child without worries, living in the moment, they can discover delight in life’s perpetually available gifts: the five senses, food, beautiful flowers, playful or serene animals, eye contact, a loving smile, tender touch, laughter, games, art, music, dance.. all doorways to delight which the most handicapped of humans can still access. “Embrace the greatness this life offers us in every state of health,” says the author. “Engaged loving care is the cure for suffering. Try adding it on top of your current medical plan!”
In The Present
A very unique feature of this book – and perfect training for Alzheimer’s companions - is that it is written entirely in the present tense. Even in recounting his years of personal care-taker stories, Lazaroff’s language is always in the now. Reading just a few pages of this timeless kind of presentation has a startlingly transformative effect on one’s outlook. By removing the past and future, the full depth of the present is revealed. Our caring becomes the sharing of this presence. We realize that happiness isn’t something we search for, hold on to, or lose, but rather what we discover and create, together. “In this moment, I enter Carl’s world, and I am with him completely. Life is good.”
Lonny J. Brown is the author of Self-Actuated Healing, and Enlightenment in Our Time. He lives in New Hampshire and teaches Complementary Health Care, Holistic Health, and Mind/Body Healing throughout the northeast USA.

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