Rachel Bennett, Book Addicts: Boise author shares her Alzheimer's trials with love, humor

I think that one of the hardest things someone can go through in life is living out the last years with a loved one who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. To know everything that this person once was and to have to watch that all disappear would be heartbreaking. The last thing that I would think to be helpful would be finding loving humor in the situation.

But that is exactly what Boise author Shirley Stoler did when her husband, Joe, started showing signs of and living the disease.

“Hug & Hold Hands” is a loving journal of Stoler’s life and adventures with Joe.

The whole time reading it, I was laughing and crying and feeling so much love and warmth for this couple and the life they had together. For me, it was an intimate and personal look into her experiences, and I couldn’t help but feel close to her.

Stoler is an eloquent writer and fills the pages with vignettes that tug at the heartstrings yet still make you smile. Cartoons by Jim Whiting are peppered throughout the book, along with photographs of the couple and facts about Alzheimer’s disease.

Some of you may be wondering why you would want to read a book about such a sad, personal and very real reality that you may already be living. Stoler explains in her book, “I hope this book will help you by eliminating some of (the) unknowns that may be worrying you. I used to worry ahead of time and that’s not good. If you have the answers before the questions have been asked, the test may not be so difficult.”

This book may be heartbreaking or a bit painful to read, but I think it would also be comforting in a way. Stoler also includes in the back of the book several other stories from other Alzheimer’s caregivers and a robust list of contact information for various resources.

“Hug & Hold Hands” is a touching story and well worth the read.