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3 out of 4 stars
Review by PashaRu
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Vicki Mizel disagrees. Her book Love Remembers is a personal account of her experiences in dealing with Alzheimer’s patients, working with them as a memory therapist to improve brain function. It was published in 2015 and is available in paperback and Kindle format from Amazon.
Despite years of dogmatic insistence from the medical sector that the brain cannot regenerate, Mizel argues that, since other parts of the body have the ability to regenerate and repair themselves, the brain can as well. While Alzheimer’s cannot be cured, sufferers can be helped to live a happier life with meaning – and memories – by applying the author’s methods.
And Mizel includes plenty of stories – anecdotal evidence, if you will – to support her belief that her theory is correct and her methods work. For example, a man at an Alzheimer’s day care center named Bert would ask when his wife was coming to pick him up. They would always tell him she was coming at 4:30. But a few minutes later he would ask again. He did this at least 25 times an hour. Mizel asked him to think of a big clock, and imagine that he was turning the hands to 4:30. Then she asked him to imagine kissing his wife and saying hello. Then imagine walking to the car, opening the door, and getting in. After this exercise, the man remembered, and would tell the staff that his wife would be there at 4:30.
The author argues that creating visual connections – in the mind or physically on paper – can be a powerful tool in helping Alzheimer’s sufferers to remember things and even to stimulate the brain to regenerate.
Other stories involve the author somehow making connections with patients who were deemed already too far gone into dementia, or helping patients to recall pleasant things from the past to cheer them up. Or help them to have some goals, something to look forward to even at that late stage of life. She also discusses her own family members and specific stories related to them – mother, brother, grandmother, uncle – and the impact that these people had on her.
But the book is not just a discussion of Alzheimer’s patients and the author’s claimed successes in working with them. She openly discusses problems, issues and failures in her own life, including a serious brain injury that she, the memory expert, had to recover from; it almost feels as if the writing of the book was very much a cathartic exercise for her. She admits that the book went in a somewhat different direction than she had intended, and feels that the information contained therein can help anyone that is going through a difficult time in life.
As such, it’s difficult to put the book in a category or to see a connecting theme or central idea throughout. It’s partly personal experience, partly stories about specific Alzheimer’s patients over the years, a little about the author’s methods in working with them, and partly self-help book. The personal experiences are shared with openness and honesty, the accounts about Alzheimer’s patients are sad and touching, and I found the self-help aspect to be essentially the same as the myriad other self-help books out there: play some mental games with yourself and talk yourself into believing that you can be a success at whatever you want. The specific techniques vary from book to book – here, the author encourages visualizing yourself doing what it is you want, and even drawing pictures of it – but the basic idea is the same: fill your mind with positive thoughts and convince yourself that you can achieve your dreams. I find it all a bit simplistic.
I was interested in this book because my mom was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and I was hoping to get some insight and concrete pointers as to how to approach the situation and how to help her. I can’t say that I was wholly disappointed, but amid the author’s personal stories and the self-help chapters – which were not entirely uninteresting, but not terribly helpful – I didn’t find enough of what I was looking for. The author’s belief of the ability of the brain to regenerate is quite interesting, and very general suggestions are made as to how to encourage this. I suppose the author’s programs and seminars offer much more detail and concrete information, but after reading the book, I have only a vague idea of what to do.
Still, I am hesitant to criticize too severely a work that is clearly dear to the author’s heart, a work into which she poured a great deal of herself, not to mention quite a few years; she refers to the “sixteen-year journey of developing and writing this book.” Admittedly, I didn’t get out of it was I was hoping or expecting, but that doesn’t devalue the author’s theories, experiences, and generally positive message. I just didn’t find a lot of what I was looking for.
I recommend Love Remembers by Vicki Mizel to those who enjoy reading personal stories with a generally positive tone. Those with friends or relatives suffering from Alzheimer’s may find some helpful information, but for me, it wasn’t as specific or as thorough as I wanted it to be. I would consider giving the book 2.5 stars if that rating were available, but I am not uncomfortable rating it 3 out of 4 stars.
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― Ernest Hemingway
kandscreeley wrote:It sounds like an interesting book. It definitely would be good to get some insight into Alzheimer's, but it sounds a little too all over the place for me. Thanks for the review and good luck with your mom. I hope that you are able to apply a little of what you read!
Thank you! The author has much experience working with Alzheimer's patients, and I think her theories and approach are very interesting. I'm sure she has a lot to offer on the subject; the book just wasn't terribly focused on that one topic. That's not a criticism, just an observation.
mratdegraff91 wrote:This sounds very interesting. I work in a field of healthcare that deals with a variety of memory issues and it seems that I may find something helpful in this book. Thank you for sharing.
You might find some interesting techniques, or information that can be a springboard to further research.
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