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Dancing with Rose: Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer's Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 31, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
The growing number of readers who have relatives with Alzheimer's will warm to Kessler's excellent account of the months she worked as an unskilled resident assistant in an Alzheimer's facility on the West Coast. This facility, which she calls Maplewood, is a state-of-the-art institution, divided into small "neighborhoods" of 14 rooms with private baths, a common space and enclosed patios. The author of several nonfiction books, Kessler (Full Court Press) was attempting to resolve her feelings after her own mother, with whom she had a troubled relationship, died of Alzheimer's; bittersweet memories of her are scattered through the narrative. At Maplewood, Kessler feeds, toilets and converses with residents in varying stages of the illness. Marianne, for instance, an alert and well-dressed woman, appears not to belong at Maplewood. She still regards herself as a successful working woman, and the author treats her as such. Kessler becomes strongly attached to some of the other men and women in her neighborhood, feeling bereaved when several die during her tenure. She comes to regard Alzheimer's sufferers as individuals who can still enjoy life, given the care and recreational opportunities extended at this facility—a powerful lesson in the humanity of those we often see as tragically bereft of that quality. (June 4)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Assigned to write about Alzheimer's disease, Kessler took a page from a handful of notable journalistic predecessors. She chucked her notebook and immersed herself in the atmosphere and culture of an Alzheimer's residential facility near her home. Taking several months out of her cushy journalist's life, she worked there for minimum wage as a resident assistant (RA), the bottom job at the nursing home and one with high turnover. Indeed, many newbies don't return after the two-day orientation, much less make it to the three-month first "anniversary." Despite a high-minded description having to do with care and dignity, the RA's work is on the front line when it comes to residents' (not "patients'") bathing, using the toilet, dressing, feeding, corralling, and cleaning up. Kessler's experience was eye-opening, to say the least, more so because she was still lugging the weighty baggage of guilt she acquired from her response to her mother's Alzheimer's eight years previously. Invaluable intelligence, especially for anyone considering a residential facility for a loved one. Chavez, Donna --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is especially handy for those who don't have the patience for reading technical books.
The story keeps your interest.
I did find the narrator of this book to be a bit monotone and hard to focus on, which is why I had to give this review 4 instead of 5 stars. I much preferred to read the book instead.
I've had to experience the heartbreak of a few family members with Alzheimer's and this book definitely aids in the overall dealings/coping with the disease.
I definitely recommend this book for all who want to learn how to empathize with those involved with the disease. Whether you are the one with the disease or you are a family member, friend, or caregiver of someone afflicted with it.
Marianne ...the most "educated, erudite and articulate patient" maintains her dignity and position as though she never left her career as a university administrator. Her "brain now working on autopilot", she carries on conversations with Lauren while waiting for an imaginary appointment to show up. When you're around these folks you play by their rules.
Hayes, one of the few men at Maplewood, wants constant attention ---I'm itchy, I'm itchy, Rub my back ..Help me Help me..." Still a charmer though, dapper looking dressed in very nice clothes provided by his daughter. He was a stoic man, but Alzheimer's has unleashed his voice. Ever the engineer, his questions never stop as he demands to be told What's next? What is that? What are you doing? Why do I have to? His comments are often witty and right on mark.
Many are scared and angry all the time, and others are passive, peaceful, acquiescent, doing what they're told. Ask Vivian what did she did yesterday and hear "we went out on a bus, didn't we? I wonder what we went out to see, well, we had a good time, I know that ... it sure was fun while it was happening."
Then there is Rose ... now a ghost shuffling from room to room, taking someone's socks, or laundry, or teeth or glasses, and delivering them to the next room. An AM gal always in motion. And can she ever dance! Hands and feet moving in never-forgotten rhythm. Just ask her and you're off for a whirl around the "dance floor" wherever that might be.
When Lauren works the second shift, she sees how nearly all are affected by Sundowner's syndrome ... the agitation, confusion, depression and delusions that come with the setting sun.
As Hayes lets go of life, Lauren takes us through the end stage, identical to the path I walked that final week with my sister.
The work is hard and demanding...emptying colostomy or urine bags, changing diapers, wiping butts, showering and shaving, dressing, feeding. With eleven patients to put through their daily care plan and to keep track when they've wandered off, Lauren seldom has a break. But she finds an "optimistic view on what Alzheimer's has to teach us...."
Take time to read this one.
Quotes are from Dancing with Rose