“Ten Thousand Joys, Ten Thousand Sorrows: A Couple’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s”
By Katherine Tweed
When Harrison Hoblitzelle, or Hob as he was known, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at 72, he and his wife, Olivia, decided to go through the disease as lovingly and consciously as possible. A tall order indeed.
In her memoir of living with Hob when he had Alzheimer’s, Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle puts into practice her background in psychology, meditation and wisdom traditions to try to understand what Hob is going through and also keep their lives together as his mind slipped away.
“Ten Thousand Joys, Ten Thousand Sorrows: a Couple’s Journey Through Alzheimer’s” is a brutally honest yet graceful account of understanding the disease. Olivia, who helped to develop one of the first mind/body medicine programs in the country at Harvard Medical School, currently focuses on elder issues, spirituality and conscious aging.
AOL Health spoke with Olivia about what her experience taught her and how it can help other caregivers going through the heroic task of watching over a loved one with Alzheimer’s.
AOL Health: You mention early in the book that the chance to help a loved one is a blessing, yet it can feel like a burden. How did you reconcile those two feelings?
Olivia Ames Hoblitzelle: Of course it’s a tremendous burden. It’s a burden just to be present to someone whose mind is going. It’s psychically very draining to say nothing about the fact that you’re picking up all the pieces that they can no longer handle.
It’s so important to have compassion toward yourself in this. Yes, you’ll get tired; you’ll be frustrated and get angry — and to accept that’s part of the emotional rollercoaster and find the ways you can replenish yourself. Our community was very important to us. It’s very easy to get isolated when dealing with a major illness. It’s really important to keep a connection and ask for help.
AOL Health: How would you focus or calm yourself when the going got tough?
OAH: I realized that going outside for a few minutes or going to my garden — just knowing my refuges — or going out for tea with a friend really helped. I had to know what would fill me up again.
For questions about live in home care for your aging loved one, please contact the caregivers at Andelcare. We provide everything from respite care for the primary caregiver to full time elder care in Seattle WA and the surrounding communities. Call us at 888-788-3051 for more information.