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Like many loved ones of Alzheimer's sufferers, Lauren Kessler was devastated by the ravaging disease that seemed to turn her mother into another person before claiming her life altogether. To deal with the pain of her loss, and to better understand the confounding aspects of living with a disease that afflicts four and a half million people every ...
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Like many loved ones of Alzheimer's sufferers, Lauren Kessler was devastated by the ravaging disease that seemed to turn her mother into another person before claiming her life altogether. To deal with the pain of her loss, and to better understand the confounding aspects of living with a disease that afflicts four and a half million people every year, Kessler enlisted as a caregiver at a facility she calls Maplewood. Life inside the facility is exhausting and humbling, a microenvironment built upon the intense relationships between two groups of marginalized people: the victims of Alzheimer's and the underpaid, overworked employees who care for them. But what surprises Kessler more than the disability and backbreaking work is the grace, humor, and unexpected humanity that are alive and well at Maplewood.
Dancing with Rose is forceful and funny, clear-eyed and compelling. An intriguing narrative about the relationships and realities of end-of-life care, it stars an endearing cast of characters who give a human face to what has always been considered a dehumanizing condition. Illuminating and beautifully written, Kessler's immersion offers a new, optimistic view on what Alzheimer's has to teach us.
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 2007 Reed Business Information
Posted March 27, 2010