The 60-Minute Health Literacy – common sense approach to informed decision making By Jo Kline, J. D.,  


 

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Preparing for Decision Making – Managing the Long Range Treatment of Multiple Chronic Conditions

In her new book “The 60-Minute Health Literacy” attorney and bestselling author, Jo Kline, J.D. provides the reader with the practical tools of managing health care decisions for yourself or a loved one. Kline describes health literacy as “the tools and resources needed to make informed decisions regarding preventative, routine, emergency, and end of life care.”

I found the Index of decision-making dilemmas and the medical profile forms, as well as the chapters on The Building Blocks of Health Literacy, Palliative Care, Assembling a Health Care Team, and Keeping accurate Paperwork, especially helpful.

As an aging senior and designated as the durable power of attorney for health care for my wife, an Alzheimer’s patient, I plan to keep my copy of “The 60-Minute Health Literacy” within arm’s reach of my desk for easy reference at all times as I put into practice this “common sense approach to informed medical decision making.”

In today’s complex world of modern technology, advanced research in medicine, new life-sustaining pharmaceuticals, and artificial means of life support Jo Kline’s “The 60-Minute Health Literacy” is important reading for every senior adult, caregiver, designated executor or guardian.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Providentia Publishing, West Des Moines, Iow978-0692955062, $ 14.99, 2017, 80 pages

 

 

 

 

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Curse of the Coloring book – A Novel Inspired by a True Story By Howard L. Hibbard – A Book Review


Curse of the Coloring book – A Novel Inspired by a True Story

By Howard L. Hibbard

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Combat Veterans and the Frightening Long-Term Impact of PTSD

Howard L. Hibbard, a Viet Nam combat veteran has chosen to relive his experiences through the eyes of his fictional protagonist, Herald Lloyd, in “Curse of the Coloring Book – A Novel Inspired by a True Story.”

Hibbard masterfully incorporates the elements of good storytelling as he draws the reader into Herald’s life. Tired of living in the shadow of his father’s academic accomplishments as a student at MIT and his reputation as a highly successful status as a doctor; fun loving Herald struggling with his studies, quit school and enlisted as a combat infantry lieutenant headed for Viet Nam. On a whim Herald purchased a GI Joe Coloring Book and a half-gallon of whiskey to celebrate with his fraternity brothers.

Through flashbacks and vignettes, Hibbard relates his experiences of serving a year as a platoon leader in an infantry unit on the Cambodian border. He tells of life after the war, trying to adjust to a normal civilian life, his marriage, building a law practice and the ongoing battle with PTSD while defending himself in a malpractice suit, which was the result a clerical error.

Hibbard writes with authenticity, sensitivity, and with eye-opening reality as he describes the intense terror of serving on the front lines, He writes with a balance heartwarming insight and humor as he speaks reverently of the comradeship and loyalty brought on by the uncertainty of life, death, and the heartache that accompanies survival.

The action-packed account of combat and courtroom tension combine to make ‘Curse of the Coloring Book’ a must-read for the aficionados of both/courtroom drama and frontline warfare.

“Curse of the Coloring Book” is an important book for combat veterans and will resonate with the veterans and their families. Hibbard’s account should be must reading for anyone suffering from PTSD. I have read several books of veterans coming home with battle fatigue and PTSD Hibbard’s account is among the best; one that will linger in the mind of the reader long after closing the final page of the book.

Ghost Dog Enterprises, Inc., 1450 Southgate Avenue, Daly City, California, 978-0985634469, $16.95, 2016, 384 Pages

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dementia Grief – A Unique Experience – From My Journal


An entry from my journal – Saturday, May 13, 2017

by Richard R. Blake

Dementia Grieving

Today I talked to a bumble bee. Well maybe not a real conversation, I talked. He buzzed. I directed him to the red colored nectar in my humming bird feeder. Never once did I see his wings stop. I wondered if he, as I do, ever experienced shortness of breath. He left me to ponder this as the sun peeked out between the clouds in an unpredictable pattern above the trees.

I continued in my reverie as I relaxed in my pre-father’s day gift, a “slider rocker” stationed on our deck enjoying the peacefulness, and the stunning back drop of trees that surrounded me.

My thoughts turned to Thelma. She is fragile now, weighing less than 100 pounds. Attentive to my gentle words of encouragement, I softly urge her to share her thoughts with me. Her smile is my reward. Her way of communicating, “I do love you, Dick.”

In the midst of my loneliness, I sense the quiet gentle whisper of the heavenly father, through the cooing of a mourning dove.  I look up in awe at the thought of His waiting, too, for me to respond, maybe with a soft smile to acknowledge my love, and the awareness of His presence.

The shrill of a redwing blackbird, at the birdfeeder, calling for his mate, became another reminder of the wonder of God’s creation, and of His desire for our fellowship. The bumble bee returned, buzzed at me, flew on by, destination unknown.

I am now addressing the bee as “honey” as I smile – contentedly alone – but not alone. Thelma and I are still sharing the miracle of life, and I want to treasure these remaining days, weeks, months, or years, one day at a time.

~~~~~~~~

Alzheimer’s research and independent studies reveal a relationship of pre-death grief in the experience of dementia caregivers. These studies address issues of ambiguous loss, as this relates to the grief process brought on by stress, the burden of caregiving, and the consequent tendency to develop depression.

Ambiguous losses include the loss of friends, loss of social life, loss of flexibility, loss of aspirations, and the loss of hope. [i]

In the early days of our journey questions by well-meaning friends often threw me off guard. Questions begin with “Are you aware of Thelma’s (implying Thelma’s advancing stage of dementia)?” were asked at social gatherings or in a group setting including Thelma, I became deeply hurt or offended.  How could I not be aware? I lived with Thelma twenty-four/seven.

I tried to cover for Thelma’s inadequacies in similar groups. We both became pretty good bluffers. However, it became increasingly difficult to enter into meaningful conversations as the “breadth” and scope of our world continued to shrink.

I began to withdraw. Soon we were foregoing church dinners for our own private dinner dates at Denny’s, or the “all you can eat buffets.” Our dates often included a quick tour of the Dollar Store or grocery shopping at Safeway. I begin to withdraw.

Getting together with the family has taken on a new dimension.  The great grandchildren’s enthusiasm, high energy level, giggles and laughter bring pure joy. Fast paced conversations, catching up on family news, and lots of delicious food, are all important.  Little by little I am get recognizing a unique sadness, a missing piece, so close to my heart. Thelma is not with us. I miss her dearly.

Now that Thelma is in an Assisted Living Care Facility, I face new challenges. In social gatherings, I am no longer able to include Thelma. I become envious of those couples who sit by side by side with their wives in comfortable conversation, and I am guarded in my conversations with women in the group who have lost their mates.

I try to compensate for these loses by reaching out to others in the community with a sincere smile, a word of encouragement, expressions of appreciation, sharing a current story of ways Thelma can still express her love, her simplest needs, or maybe a humorous observation of how I may have displeased her in some small way.

Thelma’s example has taught me to recognize that there are no strangers in our world, only unintroduced friends.

I am intentional about building a balanced life, by putting an emphasis on the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional prerequisites of a well-rounded whole being. I keep hope alive by setting new goals, enjoying the natural beauty of Southwest Michigan, the lake, the wonder of the changing seasons, and I try to compensate for the demands of caregiving through the flexibility of retirement, the gift of imagination, and the rewards of self-discovery.

A positive look at these ambiguous losses have given me new hope, challenged me to be alert for opportunities that will nurture emotional stability, spiritual growth, and creativity. I continue to remind myself that caregiving is love in action.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Questions to consider:

  1. Have you found it harder to stay in touch with friends? How has this impacted your sense of loss?
  2. How do you meet your social needs?
  3. How have you built flexibility into your heavy responsibilities as a caregiver?
  4. Do you still have dreams, a “bucket list” for the future?
  5. Did you see yourself in my reverie and observations of the birds and the “honey bee”? Or did you feel, “I think Richard is in serious need of therapy.”
  6. How do you keep hope alive in these difficult days of “grief” over ambiguous loss?

[i] Ambiguous Losses come with Caregiving, Harriet Hodgson


The Shattering II – Breaking the Silence

By: Marsha Barth

Reviewed By Richard R. Blake

A Memoir Written as a Novel – A Shattering Story of Child Sexual Abuse

In her book “The Shattering II – Breaking the Silence” Marsha Barth uses a fictional character, Julie, to relate her story of overcoming child sexual abuse. Through Julie, Marsha, tells how she tried to bury the hurt, pain, and heartbreaking trauma of parental verbal, physical, and sexual abuse.

Marsha’s writing is candid, open, realistic, and forthright. She helps the reader understand the devastation and intense traumatic sense of shame and hopelessness of the victim of abuse. Marsha tell how the aftermath of abuse shatters the spirit, robs its victims of self-worth, value and inadequacy, and an understanding of the meaning of true love. The social stigma and emotional scars of shame and guilt that follow are demeaning and unspeakable.

Marsha Barth is an inspirational speaker, author, and advocate for breaking the silence of the ongoing cycle of sexual abuse. She offers hope to victims in their quest for wholeness.

“The Shattering II” is a story with spiritual implication, an amazing story of a survivor of the hurt, pain, and brokenness of abuse, of her steadfast faith and her determination to overcome the hopelessness of a being victimized to claim victory, inner peace, and healing.

Deeply moving, clearly insightful, an important relevant message at a time when there are reportedly over 60,000,000 survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and countless other victims of rape, domestic abuse, and bullying.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Robert D. Reed Publishers, P . O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon, 97411, 978-1944297053, $16.95, 2017, 360 Pages

Flightmares, Sky – High Humor By Robert D. Reed – A Book Review


 

Flightmares, by Robert D. Reed

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Laughter: A Prescription for Releasing Stress. Building Confidence, and Increasing Self-Worth

“Flightmares, Sky – High Humor” is filled with subtle wit, quotes and jokes attributed to well-known aviators, and, comedians. The pages are packed with “laugh a minute” twists, oddities, and idiosyncrasies; humor that is guaranteed to tickle the funny bone.

I especially enjoyed comments alluded to anonymous flight attendants, passengers, and pilots. I couldn’t help myself; I laughed, chuckled, and cracked up as I read the problems and solutions recorded by pilots and their mechanics.

The clever and imaginative cartoon illustrations created by Khairul Izzuddin add to the wit of an already hilarious collection, using well-chosen concepts related to air travel, customer service, and aeronautical procedures.

Bob recognized the physical benefits of laughter. There is healing in laughter.   Doctors are prescribing “laughter” for relieving stress. Studies have established that laughing releases endorphins which stimulate feeling of caring and forgiveness, which create a positive state of the mind and “boost” optimism, self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.

Robert D. Reed is known for his love of fun by his family, his friends, and business associates. As you pick up “Flightmares, Sky High Humor,” be sure to allow yourself the extra benefit of laughter, out loud laughter that triggers the endorphins to do their magic.

Fun filled entertainment at its Best

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Robert D. Reed Publishers, P. O. Box 1992, Bandon, Or 97422, 978-1944297169, $ 9.95, 2017,

 

What’s Happening to Grandpa? By Maria Shriver – Book Review


What’s Happening to Grandpa?

By Maria Shriver

Little, Brown, Warner Books, 1271 Avenue of Americas, New York, NY 10020, 0316001015, $ 15.95, 2004,

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

Deeply Moved – Valuable Insight into the Dread Disease Dementia and Alzheimer’s

I am a grandfather. My wife has Alzheimer’s disease. I can only wish I had read Maia Shriver’s book “What’s Happening to Grandpa?” when it was first published in 2004. I watched as our children and grandchildren struggled through questions I hadn’t resolved myself.

Shriver’s insights into the mind of a child and understanding of the process of aging, dementia, and Alzheimer’s capture the emotions of the victim of Alzheimer’s, their primary caregiver, and the entire family impacted by the disease.

I was deeply moved by Shriver’s warmth and sensitivity. The unique use of the voice and viewpoint of Kate, a child, make this a valuable educational resource for children, K – 5th grade. The book can also serve to open conversations with older children.

The obvious love and patience Kate develops with her grandfather as she works through her feelings of hurt, sadness, and loss bear evidence of understanding as she takes on the project of savoring and saving Grandpa’s stories by making a photo album to insure that these stories live on as Grandpa’s memory continues to decline.

Sandra Speidel’s soft colored illustrations add a rich sense that creates the same warm feelings through Shriver’s word pictures and give an extra dimension of reality to the story.

“What’s Happening to Grandpa?”  is a wonderful tool for Alzheimer’s awareness, family comfort, and childhood education. Highly recommended.

40 Days to Wholeness – Body, Soul, and Spirit By Beni Johnson – A Book Review


40 Days to Wholeness – Body, Soul, and Spirit, By Beni Johnson

 

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

A Devotional Guide Leading to a Healthy and Free Lifestyle

In her book “40 Days to Wholeness – Body, Soul and Spirit” Beni Johnson masterfully presents a progressive positive approach to attain and maintain a lifestyle of health and wholeness from the starting point to a natural sense of relationship of physical health, mental acuity, and spiritual power.

Each of the 40 days open with a carefully selected passage from the scriptures, a word of practical instruction, encouragement or motivation drawn from Beni’s own pursuit healthy living and wholeness. A unique feature of the book is the thematic continuity and consistency by putting an emphasis on “Body, Soul, and “Spirit.” The instructions, words of encouragement, and prayers with declarations of thanksgiving strengthen the reader for their journey.

I found the chapters addressing: the importance of a support circle, practicing self-control, and pressing toward the goal to be especially helpful and motivating.  The suggestions for being intentional about keeping an exercise journal resonated with me.

Christians who have struggled with basic discipline in exercise, diet, and devotional consistency will find Beni Johnson’s “40 Days to Wholeness – Body, Soul and Spirit” practical, easy to implement, and motivating. Highly recommended.

The book is a part of the Healthy and Free video curriculum. A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257. 97807687410846, $16.99, 2017, 184 pages

 

 

Lessons from Zachary – A Book Review


Lessons from Zachary – Turning Disability into Possibility

By Sandy Scott

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake, richard330@yahoo.com

Engaging and Releasing Hidden Powers Within – Standing Strong Through the Storm

Just twelve days after his birth Zachary Scott was diagnosed as severely physically and intellectually disabled. This news began a journey into the uncharted territory of the unknown for Sandy and Jonathan Scott; a heart-rending journey plagued by unexpected disappointments and uncertainties. The daily stresses of hectic schedules, social pressures, and the demands created by Zachary’s disabilities became overwhelming.

Sandy was devastated and frustrated by an unexpected and unusual combination of strained relationships and in desperation was forced to look within herself and to choose a new perspective – one that unleashed in her the power of love.

Sandy reached into the resources of unexplored potential to become a leader in coaching leaders in healthcare, to parents of children with disabilities, and to train professionals in the healthcare and educational fields.

Sandy’s writing is authentic, genuine, realistic and relevant. Her premises are well thought out, her choice of words stir the imagination of the reader and enable them to relate personally to her journey through a complex set of circumstances. As the reader becomes deeply involved in Sandy’s story; her insights and the lessons she learned become personal and identifiable and provide a new understanding into the complications, experiences and unknown potential of their own lives. Dozens of well-chosen pictures and good photography add a whole extra dimension to the heart felt emotions of love, pathos, and positive impact of Zachary’s life.

“Lessons from Zachary” will resonate with readers who have been touched by the challenge of disappointment in broken relationships and other personal tragedy; readers in need of a message of hope, and a strategy for tapping into their unknown potential.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

International Publishing Works, P. O. Box 415, Bellevue, Colorado 50512-0415, 978-097759205, 1995, 2017, 264 Pages

 

 

 

 

 

Silent Takeover by Jacquelyn Sheppard – A Book Review


Silent Takeover – How the Body Hijacks the Mind

By: Jacquelyn Sheppard

Reviewed by Richard R. Blake

How the Body Affects the Mind and the Mind Affects the Body – A Plan for Redesigning Body, Soul and Spirit”

In her book “Silent Takeover – How the Body Hijacks the Mind” Jacquelyn Sheppard sets out to establish the concept that emotional, mental disorders and other addictive behaviors are directly related to diet.  She provides a “roadmap” for anyone looking for answers to two questions:  “Why am I the way I am? What can be done to change my Life?”

The book is made up of four parts. Part one deals with below the surface issues of emotional, mental, and addictive behaviors. Part two looks at surface issues; facing daily decisions and finding solutions to negative behaviors. Part three helps the reader understand addictions and look realistically at the impact of chemicals on everyday life. Part four provides strategies for redesigning body, soul, and spirit.

Jacquelyn’s writing reveals sensitivity to the examples of shepherding in Jesus’ teaching and a spiritual tone that resonates with the reader, establishes rapport, and builds confidence in her assumptions.

Sheppard’s extensive research often challenges generally recognized and more traditionally accepted interpretations of mental and emotional issues. Her meticulous chapter end-notes provide the reader with substantial suggestions for additional reading which confirm her conclusions. Her work is endorsed by professionals in the fields of medicine, education, and clergy.

I found Jacquelyn Sheppard’s “Silent Takeover – How the Body Hijacks the Mind” to be immensely interesting and vitally informative. Highly Recommended.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257, 978-0768409246, $ 16.99, 2016, 254 pages