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Ten Thousand Joys & Ten Thousand Sorrows: A Couple's Journey Through Alzheimer's Paperback – September 30, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Both Hoblitzelle and her husband of nearly 40 years, Hob, practiced the Buddhist methods of acceptance and letting go to graceful effect in dealing with Hob' s symptoms of Alzheimer' s. In this thoughtful narrative, Hoblitzelle explains that at age 72, Hob, a former English professor, was diagnosed with the disease, having experienced odd moments of disconnect and forgetfulness; his condition gradually declined until his death six years later. The author, 14 years his junior, records her compassionate side-by-side journey with her husband, mindful of their remaining time together and resolved to face the disease and its challenges rather than deny it. As a man of words, Hob grew deeply distressed by his aphasia, and the author details the stages of Hob' s debilitation--which he accepted with humor and lightness--mostly in terms of his painful lapse into the inarticulable. Much of the barrage of wisdom she sought from Tibetan elders sounds blithe and pat out of context, but Hoblitzelle frankly expresses the growing sense of disconnection between them and the burdens of caretaking, and at the end of each chapter offers helpful suggestions for those dealing with the disease.
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* In this heartfelt and ultimately heartbreaking book, Hoblitzelle, a writer and teacher, describes the loss of her beloved husband, a former professor of comparative literature known endearingly by his nickname Hob, who was diagnosed at the age of 72 with Alzheimer’s. We watch helplessly as Hob battles the disease with grace, nobility, and good humor, even when he struggles for words and then loses the ability to speak altogether. Hoblitzelle describes with great humanity the early symptoms and the initial shock after first learning of the diagnosis. She discusses her various coping mechanisms, the many forms that caretaking can assume, and how the teachings of Buddhism and the reciting of poetry helped them navigate through the darkest moments. Hoblitzelle offers very useful—and cathartic—self-help sections at the end of each chapter that include reflections, suggestions, and prayers. This is not an easy book to read, but it is an important one. As the author notes, “Our story is everyone’s story.” Wise, inspiring, and compassionate, it is for anyone—whether patient, caregiver, or family member—who is facing a life-changing diagnosis. --June Sawyers
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher; Reprint edition (September 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585428272
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585428274
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Anne S. Nash on November 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is an inspiring and deeply spiritual approach of a couple sharing the challenges of Alzheimer's. It is a book about letting go and dying but it is in may ways as much a book about how to live. It demonstrates a way to live in the midst of suffering and loss so as to maintain balance, acceptance, and deep learning. The quotes from a person who, at one moment is out of touch, and the next is clear as a bell, are amazing and wonderful. A friend to whom I loaned this book stayed up all night to read it through. It will guide you and teach you. I highly recommend this to anyone dealing with aging and decline through Alzheimer's or other kinds of diminishment.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Paula Green on November 13, 2010
Format: Paperback
The author has given the world a guide through the mysterious processes of living and dying, and helps us discern how to manage these transitions with consciousness, honesty, and full awareness. Ten Thousand Joys and Sorrows is eloquent and remarkable -- honest, brave, and rich with spiritual teachings. Many people will turn to its wisdom in their own times of challenge and travail, when they are facing changes, loss of loved ones, or their own dying process.

The lessons offered are both profound and practical, guiding readers through the tenderness of grief and despair, love and devotion, hope and agony. Olivia and Hob's journey takes us through the full human drama in its most poignant and vulnerable moments. We as readers are with them in their struggles, and in so doing, preparing ourselves for the inevitable moments in our own life when we must release ourselves or those we love, and surrender to what life has presented us. We would be graced to enter these moments with the sensitivity and insight apparent throughout this journey.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By F. J. Levinson on November 11, 2010
Format: Paperback
Ten Thousand Joys and Sorrows is so spiritually compelling and so filled with practical wisdom that other clergy friends and I have been sending it to members of our congregations who are facing such challenges. These persons, in turn, have been sending it to others. Through such word-of-mouth, this book has become an instant classic. Kudos and thanks to Olivia Hoblitzelle!

F. James Levinson, Ph.D.
Spiritual Leader
Brattleboro Area Jewish Community
Brattleboro Vermont
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J. Byers on December 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
This is a beautiful book. I have read quite a few Alzheimer's memoirs since I have become a caregiver for my grandmother, who has Alzheimer's. I very much appreciate the spiritual perspective of this book, it is much closer to how I'd like to approach the situation than many stories I have heard/read. What struck me most about this story and about about the author's telling of it was their self-awareness, especially his, even in fairly advanced stages of the disease. I am amazed that he was able to keep quoting poetry and giving his "reports from the interior" for so long. Perhaps that is what so many years of practicing Buddhism will do for you. :) I wish my grandmother was able to communicate her experience to me so well.

In any case, I highly recommend this book, it's a great read and a very moving story (I did cry at the end, and a few times before that...) about the awareness with which it is possible to approach a terminal illness. Anyone interested in Alzheimer's or aging should read it.

I would have been interested in a little more information about the rest of the family, but it was clearly not Hoblitzelle's intention to focus on that.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mott on October 29, 2010
Format: Paperback
I first read this book in its previous incarnation several years ago. As a member of the "sandwich generation," I found it compelling and helpful in dealing with my aging family. Since then, I have had a close friend diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I've re-read the book and have found new perspectives and strategies for dealing with the disease--and for being with my friend who is surely still alive deep within herself, despite the memory loss. Perhaps more valuable is the comfort I have found within Olivia's wisdom. Not only is the book helpful and practical, it illustrates spirituality within day-to-day life and struggles. On top of this, the book is beautifully written and tells a lovely story. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Dorothy Miller on July 9, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
this book is about one couple's journey with Alzheimer's disease. It was interesting to read & relate to as far as the disease goes but it has a lot about Buddhism in it & the author's involvement as teachers & meditators. I ordered another book since reading this & this seems to be more helpful to me as I struggle with various issues caring for my young spouse with the disease.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Elliot Aronson on January 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Olivia Hoblitzelle has given us a moving account of her husband's battle with Alzheimer's. It is filled with warmth and love--as well as accurate information about the disease and useful tips on coping strategies. What's more, she writes with clarity, passion, and open-heartedness. A monumental achievement. Thank you, Olivia!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By chemman on May 8, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've read many books about Alzheimer's and people's journey through this awful disease, this book was one of the best one's I've read. It has been very helpful to me as I take this journey with my husband and his Alzheimer's disease.
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