With a Loving Eye: Documenting Person-Centered Alzheimer's Care

Article excerpt

With a loving eye: documenting person-centered Alzheimer's care Love, Loss, and Laughter: Seeing Alzheimer's Differently By Cathy Greenblat Lyons Press, $24.95, 176 pages, ISBN 9780762779079

Cathy Greenblat, Ph.D., an artistin-residence at the hospital network of Nice, France, has visited and photographed high-quality Alzheimer's care in many countries. A professor emerita of sociology at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, she has written more than 100 articles and 14 books, and has personal experience with Alzheimer's, as both her maternal grandparents developed the disease and her mother also was diagnosed. Since 2002, Greenblat has been working on a crosscultural photographic project addressing aging, dementia and end-of-life care. Her newest book, Love, Loss and Laughter: Seeing Alzheimer's Differently (Lyons Press, 2011), exhibits spun off of the book and other exhibits on dementia are all a part of her ongoing project.

In the book, Greenblat seeks to change the reader's mind about Alzheimer's. As she says in the book, "For years I accepted the stereotypical view of people with dementia, one characterized by fear and despair about their changing brains and the consequences of those changes.

"What I've seen in homes, daycare centers, memory clinics and residential communities in several countries over the past decade has challenged that mind-set. People living with dementia, along with their families and professional caregivers, offered a much more hopeful vision. They taught me that there are effective strategies for maintaining capacities, independence and quality of life."

Greenblat has filled her book with inspiring and poignant images of people from many countries and diverse social and economic classes- all of whom share the benefit of being in the hands of those who care about the person, not merely the patient. She writes about the social model of care for those with dementia- one that concentrates on enhancing "personhood" and maintaining quality of life versus care based on a medicalized model. …