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From Stage to Page, Advice and Humor as a Showbiz Legend Turns 90

Posted by Carolyn Harmer on Nov 28, 2015 3:25:36 PM

Book of the Month: December 2015

In our book for December, we celebrate Dick Van Dyke’s 90th birthday with a look at his new memoir about aging with flexibility and wit.Actor, comedian, and song-and-dance legend Dick Van Dyke will turn 90 years old this December 13. With career hits on stage, film, and television (highlights include Bye Bye Birdie, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mary Poppins, and Diagnosis: Murder), Van Dyke has been receiving lifetime achievement honoraria since the 1990s — although it hasn’t stopped him from consistently working to this day, with seemingly tireless enthusiasm that defies his age.

In anticipation of his milestone birthday, Van Dyke has penned a kicky memoir about aging with aplomb; as he seems by all reports to be as sprightly as ever, he can be considered something of an expert. And so this bouncy collection of memories bitter and sweet, blended with lists and rhymes, is our selection for December.

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Topics: Recommended Reading

Lyrical Language and Vivid Recall in Memoir of Stroke and Recovery

Posted by Carolyn Harmer on Nov 5, 2015 4:21:32 PM

Book of the Month: November 2015

BOTM-BLOG-BAN-OneHundredNames-600x460-150115Recovering from any physical setback takes hard work and patience. Progress may be slow and frustrating, caregiver demands can be high, and the effort required to restore physical strength can cause discomfort, exhaustion, or both. For cases of brain injury, such as stroke, a person’s setbacks may be cognitive as well as physical. One common effect is difficulty with speech and language, a condition known as aphasia, which affects an estimated 25% to 40% of patients who survive a stroke.

For one couple, writers Paul West and Diane Ackerman, words formed the basis of their professional and personal lives together. Our book for November is Ackerman’s literary account of her husband’s stroke, learning to cope with his aphasia, and their efforts to restore him to writing and word play over years of hard-fought recovery.

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Topics: Recommended Reading, Stroke

Spelling it Out: Author Reflects on Her Breast Cancer, from A to Z

Posted by Carolyn Harmer on Sep 26, 2015 11:20:44 AM

Book of the Month: October 2015

Book of the Month: October 2015One in every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer; the disease remains the most-diagnosed form of cancer in women and their second-leading cause of death. With so many women touched by this disease, there are bound to be commonalities — similar tests, procedures, and strains, as well as fears, emotions, and surprises. Yet every woman, and every cancer, is unique. How exactly she reacts, where she finds comfort, which messages resonate, and the buzzwords that rankle encompass a singular and personal experience.

In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month this and every October, our latest book recommendation is a journalist’s reflection on her own sojourn in the surreal reality that she calls ‘Cancerland.’ The diminutive volume treads a fine line between universalism and individuality, presenting author Madhulika Sikka's distinct opinion, as told by a confidante and fellow member of a club no one chose to join.

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Topics: Recommended Reading, Cancer

A Bestselling Surgeon’s Striking Vantage on Aging and Care Priorities

Posted by Carolyn Harmer on Aug 29, 2015 10:30:00 AM

Book of the Month: September 2015

Our conversation-starting book for September examines the sometimes contentious relationship between aging and medicine from multiple vantage points.Dr. Atul Gawande has brought his insights as a surgeon, public health researcher, and professor of medicine to the literary world for many years. He has been recognized for his bestselling books and contributions to the New Yorker, primarily concerning modern medicine. Gawande’s writing is notable for migrating away from the thrilling, groundbreaking forefronts of treatment, often turning a critical eye on cutting-edge medicine and the expense and error it can introduce.

Gawande’s most recent book, Being Mortal, takes a bracing look at the dissonance between the aims of the US healthcare system and the best interests of aging or chronically ill patients. By placing himself and his own dawning fallacies as a physician into the story, he traces a path away from every-available-treatment and instead toward a new kind of compassionate care.

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Topics: Hospice, Recommended Reading, Advanced Care Planning

Compassionate Storytelling Uncovers the Value of Caregiver Self-Care

Posted by Carolyn Harmer on Aug 1, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Book of the Month: August 2015

Caregiving can raise challenging needs, and it can also cause complex feelings. Our book for August unveils the significance of emotional self-care.As seniors age or their health declines, caregivers juggle many emerging needs for their loved ones. Doctors might impart instructions for medications or post-operative care; therapists might demonstrate and teach safe practices to assist with activities of daily living. Not only can a caregiver’s role include medical, physical, and financial tasks, but he or she may also be counted on for emotional support.

Because balancing a loved one’s needs and their own can be a high-wire act all by itself, caregivers can sometimes respond by pushing their own feelings to the back burner. However, the emotional impact of caregiving can affect a person’s relationships with family, loved ones, and fellow caregivers. This month’s book allows caregivers to explore their own feelings by way of a familiar story.

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Topics: Caregiving, Recommended Reading, Emotional Health