Just seeing similar expressions of caring, curiosity, and engagement from people from India, Japan, the Dominican Republic and the U.S. makes one forget petty thoughts and convene with one's humanity. And did I mention the book is about Alzheimer's disease and related disorders?
I just loved this book - and not just the photographs, but the writing, too. Same kind of thing - easy to engage with, informative, connecting.One spread I loved concerned a luncheon at a Texas Alzheimer's community. Women were taken to a flea market to purchase hats and then wore them to the luncheon at a special table set in the dining room. They all look great in their hats and each one clearly has been chosen by that person - fuschia with a mesh veil, black, and pale pink with flowers on the brim. Alongside the portraits of three women in their hats, there is an additional photo of one of the women sharing her hat with her granddaughter, most likely. The older woman is completely engaged and has such a lovely expression.
This takes me back to the book's introduction, which gave me insight into the forefront of Alzheimer's care, which is the evolution from a biomedical to a social model of care. Greenblat writes: Person-centered care can diminish depression, apathy, agitation, frustration, anger, and guilt for those who suffer and for their caregivers....Providing occasions for humor, laughter, and celebrations of life are also keys to improved quality of life for all.
The photos really convey this and provide a window into an important direction for Alzheimer's care - and for our own everyday living.
As a physician for twenty years, I am moved by the images and prose I encountered in this work as they seem to leap out of my years in medicine, almost in recognition of the real people and real stories that were part of my own professional life for so long.
As a professional painter in my second career for the last twenty years, I am moved by the beauty of the composition, color, light and above all, expressiveness of the multitude of photographs created by Dr. Greenblat.
As a son-in-law to my wife's parents diagnosed with Alzheimer's and the son of my own mother with the same illness, I am moved beyond words.
I would like to briefly comment on Love, Loss and Laughter.
Despite my copious reading on the subject, I still found myself leaving this book with new knowledge on the topic and certainly new inspiration on ways of perceiving, supporting and coping with people that carry the diagnosis... as well as their caregivers. Celebrating life's events, working hand in hand with Alzheimer's care providers, connecting to and encouraging the afflicted, doing everything possible to maintain what is there and observing the wondrous, almost miraculous effects of music and art on many of those with the disease are not just hollow words: they are profound truths. I have seen it with my own eyes. I have watched my mother slowly rouse from a deep sleep in which she appeared unresponsive, to begin to smile and to sway her body and wave her arms in progressively wider and more animated movement as the Andrews sisters began their WWII vintage rendition of the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy. The transformation was truly draw-dropping. And the potential benefits of music and other modalities are beautifully addressed by Dr. Greenblat in her caring, empathic book.
Love, Loss and Laughter is a gorgeous book with superb reproductions and fine, sometimes eye-opening prose. For me, with a proclivity for the visual, the images of Dr. Greenblat make the book. She says EVERYTHING in her exquisitely sensitive photography. As someone once famously said, if we could say everything with words, we wouldn't need art. Dr. Greenblat, the artist, is the incarnation of that principle.
This book stresses that, above all, as demonstrated by hundreds of people from nations with widely varying cultures and customs from all over the world, the "A" word is not the same as many of us once thought. The "A" word stands for Alzheimer's, certainly: but as Dr. Greenblat shows us in her sincere and sensitive way, it also stands for Adaptability... Adaptability which leads to the unlocking of human potential in the patient, the caregiver and all who come in contact with them. Bravo Dr. Greenblat for adding to the sum of human knowledge and human empathy.
--Jan K. Lipes