The confusion, losses, and devastation of Alzheimer's disease are familiar to the millions of Americans suffering from the disease and to their family members. Understandably, declining abilities and changing personal characteristics shape our picture of the disease, leading some to refer to the "double death" of Alzheimer's in which the sufferer drifts away long before his or her eventual physical end.
This small, tender volume of 85 photographs and accompanying discussion powerfully shows the limitations of this view. Cathy Stein Greenblat, an internationally respected sociologist and photographer, demonstrates in Alive with Alzheimer's that, while the ravages of the disease are real, Alzheimer's sufferers can do more than survive, they can thrive. Her images, interviews, and observations attest to the possibility of their being "alive" with Alzheimer's far beyond the expectations of the general public and even of many physicians with long experience with the disease.
Greenblat offers a new vision, taking us into a world of life-enhancing institutional care. Nursing homes and similar facilities don't have to be a last resort; as Greenblat shows, with a dedicated and experienced staff and an enriched environment (that includes respect, choices, pets, and music), extraordinary changes can be effected in Alzheimer's patients. Alive with Alzheimer's, the first photographic book on the disease, offers hope and inspiration. Moreover, its vivid, impressive evidence that ongoing stimulation in a good institutional setting can sustain Alzheimer's patients at a far higher level than is generally believed has significant implications for personal and policy decisions.
The new standard of care chronicled in Alive with Alzheimer's will provide hope and inspiration to those touched by the disease. As Dr. Enid Rockwell writes in her Afterword to Greenblat's moving book, "These photographs are extraordinary for practitioners, for family members, for everyone to see what's going on with these people. The stimulation pictured in this book is more powerful than any medication that we will have in our lifetime. . . . They so vividly show us that there are people inside these bodies, people with personalities, who experience emotion, and they show that there is life after Alzheimer's."
About Cathy Stein Greenblat
See more books from this Author
Published March 1, 2004
by University of Chicago Press.
Health, Fitness & Dieting, Arts & Photography, Professional & Technical.