Replace Bad Habits with Good Habits: Know the 6 Stages of Change

The New Year is here. Are you making resolutions to change your bad habits into healthy habits? What’s your record on resolutions? If you want to make changes that produce lasting results, then listen up! Today I am introducing you to the six stages of change and how applying the six stages of change can help you fulfill your New Year’s resolutions. Then, it is up to you to make powerful resolutions that give you what you want.

What Does Change Have to Do with Resolutions?

You make a resolution to effect a change in life either by doing something new or by discontinuing something as it is usually done. “I’m going to get into shape!” or “I’m going to quit drinking.” Knowing the six stages of change, you may consciously apply them methodically when you make your resolutions and throughout the year as you fulfill on your resolutions.

Where Do the Six Stages of Change Come From?

Psychologist James Prochaska distinguishes the six stages of change in his book, Changing For Good. This is the product of his study of smokers who successfully quit and those who attempt to quit, and relapse. The stages of change apply to any  implementation of change. The change may be to quit smoking, to get into shape, to have a customer adopt your product, or to implement a new business process in your department.

How Do the Stages of Change Work?

Relapse is when an attempt is made at change and the condition returns to as it was before the attempt at change. The key to effect lasting change is to complete each of the stages, in sequence.

What are the 6 Stages of Change?

Join me on my journey through developing a consistent yoga practice.

Stage 1 – Pre-Contemplation

In the pre-contemplation stage, you might just have an idea of making a change. You are talking about it, but not seriously contemplating. I start with the thought that I want to improve my joint health and have a new exercise routine. In this stage I have not yet created the target of having a yoga practice. Stage 1 is a stage of ideas. When I choose a yoga practice as a tangible and actionable change to implement, the pre-contemplation stage is complete and I’m ready to move on to …

Stage 2 – Contemplation

I contemplate a yoga practice. What will it take to keep me going? What can take me out and have me relapse? Is there enough fun to keep me motivated? What might I like and dislike about it? I want to have it convenient because I know I have a busy schedule. What kinds of yoga are available? How will it impact my daily routine and my time with my wife? The contemplation stage is a time of reflection and information gathering. When I understand major opportunities, hurdles, and impacts of the change I am contemplating, I am complete with stage 2 and ready for …

Stage 3 – Planning

Having contemplated what it means to my life to have a consistent yoga practice, I know what planning there is to do. There is a hot yoga class 8 blocks away at 6:00 AM. Practicing with others motivates me. My wife is up early, so I have support in waking early. I try a class. I can go to yoga, shower, and get to work before 9:00 AM.

Planning is information intensive and involves communication with others who will support you or be impacted by your change. My planning is complete. I’m ready for …

Stage 4 – Action

Not until planning is complete am I ready for action. Bring to mind a time you’ve seen action without sufficient contemplation and planning? How effective and lasting is action that is ill conceived?

I sign up for monthly auto-pay for yoga. As I begin going to yoga, I am fully supported. I get to the studio at 5:40, relaxed and a bit sleepy. I have what I need and without worry or stress.

Stage 5 – Maintenance

Taking action is just one stage in implementing effective change. The stage of maintenance keeps relapse at bay. I have much to do to keep my practice going: looking forward to seeing my new morning yoga buddies, having functional mat and clothes I like, practicing when I’m away on vacation.

After two years, I am maintaining a consistent yoga practice averaging more than three classes per week.

Stage 6 – Termination

Depending on the change, termination might never come. If there ever comes a time when my habit is to pull out a yoga mat for 60 minutes, class or no class, home or away, this is the time for termination of the efforts and structures of maintenance. When the desired change is a permanent part of life, the termination stage is appropriate. When the smoker finds a cigarette is not tempting, but revolting, then there is no need for maintenance, change is permanent.

In Summary

As you create resolutions for a positive change in your life, I invite you to employ the structure of the stages of change:

  1. Pre-contemplate and select a resolution that is specific, actionable, and fulfilling.
  2. Contemplate what it will take to fulfill and the hurdles you must surmount.
  3. Plan the structures that will overcome obstacles and sustain you on your journey.
  4. Take the action consistent with your planning to put change into place.
  5. Maintain the structures of change as long as there is any risk of relapse.
  6. Terminate your supporting structures only when the change you resolved is your only way of life!

Happy New Year!

David Lazaroff is author of Little Book of Big Love – 50 Ways to Express and Acknowledge Love With Words. David gives workshops and private coaching on finding and cultivating loving relationships.

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Why Can’t I Find Love? – Three Steps to Seeing Love Anywhere

Are you asking, “Why can’t I find love?”LoveIsPresent

You hope, you date, you search. Still, you come back to the thought that there is no love for you. Sadness sets in. Loneliness overcomes you. Is this your fate? No. Love is there, I promise you.

Consider how you look for Love. You have some idea of what love should look like or how love should feel. If you don’t see love in this way, then it must be that love is not here yet. If love does not show up in the way you are looking for it, then you can not be fulfilled. Where have all the good people gone that can deliver love in the way you need love?

I assert love is everywhere. There is a tendency for affinity that makes everything physical and non-physical possible to persist in a recognizable pattern. This affinity is Love. In other words, nothing, no emotion, no feeling can exist without love. Love is a basic ingredient of this Universe. Love is present everywhere and always, persisting beyond the limits of how you and I experience time and space. Do you notice how when you give your attention to it, you can experience the love of another even when they are far away, or even many years after their death? I’m not talking about memory. I’m talking about an experience of love that persists.

You might ask, “If love is always present, then why am I not always experiencing love?” To experience something, you must give your attention to it. To experience a friend, you must give your attention to your friend. To experience a book, you must read it with devoted attention.

What about love? You may be looking for love, but your attention is on how you want love to show up. Suppose love is not showing up in the way you are looking for it. When you limit how you will see love show up, you don’t notice love showing up in any other way.

So how can you see love in the many ways is is always showing up? Follow these three steps.

Step 1. Set aside your expectations of how you want love to show up.

Step 2. Take on the perspective that love is everywhere. Try this perspective on, like you would try on a pair of shoes before buying them. You give the shoes a chance to fit and you can take them off if you don’t want them. Take on this perspective. You may set it aside later if it does not serve you.

Step 3. Be in the inquiry: “Since love is present, how is love showing up now?”

Practice these three steps regularly. As you practice, you will become more and more skilled at seeing love, even in “difficult” situations.

Love is present. Are you present to love? Allow yourself to be surprised by how love shows up. Consider that love may be offering you more in the way that love is showing up than it would be offering you if love is showing up in the way that you are accustomed to looking for love.

David Lazaroff is author of Little Book of Big Love – 50 Ways to Express and Acknowledge Love With Words. David gives workshops and private coaching on finding and cultivating loving relationships.



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Holistic Journey – Beginning Chiropractic Care

It’s February, 2013 and my body has been hurting. I’m visiting with Josh Beaudry, D.C., a Doctor of Chiropractic. Dr. Beaudry is committed to the restoration and cultivation of full health and vitality for every patient.

I’ve had chiropractic care before, however I’m quickly learning that Dr. Beaudry provides something surprising to me. He is educating me, and I am learning that chiropractic care isn’t just “crackin’ the back” to make the pain go away. There are a multitude of different approaches to chiropractic care.

blocksYou’re in pain, you put your back out, so you go to a chiropractor. Some chiropractors adjust the spine and other joints to relieve your pain. The pain goes away, you stop going. When the pain returns, you go back for more adjustments.

At first glance, that makes sense. Then there are chiropractors who do very few adjustments and spend most of their attention on other healing modalities. I have worked with another chiropractor who specializes in homeopathy and gets very good results. She is passionate about her classical approach to homeopathy, is very well trained and continually expands her knowledge.

In chiropractic college, the students choose their specialties according to their interests and personal affinity from among several branches of chiropractic technique. So, here, as in every healing modality, it is important to get to know your practitioner and come to trust that they have a plan for how their training applies to your case. If you are comfortable with the match, proceed.

Dr. Beaudry gives me my education for the day, takes my history, does a series of x-rays, measures my weight distribution by having me stand with left foot and right foot on separate scales, and uses an instrument to measure blood flow at each vertebra.

My visit is over and the doctor has his homework. When I return to discuss the result, Dr. Beaudry promises to be prepared with an analysis and a plan to move forward to meet my health goals.

In the next blog entry, I share the analysis and care plan.

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Speech Contest Loss Provides Perspective and Opportunity

by Charles Fleisher,
The Opportunities Guy

The All-Important Speech

“On a cold wet November day in 2005 I entered a room full of hundreds of people. In a panic the organizer asked me if I would be able to fill in for missing speaker. Wow! Really! I had never spoken to an audience anywhere near that size before. To my surprise, I heard myself say yes.”

prizeThe previous paragraph was the opening of my speech at the division level Toastmasters International Speech Contest in May 2012. On that May evening, as I spoke those words the presentation was going well. I got a laugh where I was supposed to and I felt a connection with the audience. The speech went on and I continued to have good audience reaction. I felt excited and exhilarated.

When I was finished I thought I had done the best possible. I was the second speaker and I was followed by a great speaker, Diane Parker, who gave a wonderful presentation and shared inspirational thoughts. I felt confident that the contest was down to Diane and myself. The tension within me grew as the judges left to tally up the scores.

When the chief judge returned he first announced the second place winner. It wasn’t me or Diane. I started to worry because if I wasn’t second and Diane was second then who’s going to be first. The chief judge announced the first place winner and again it wasn’t me.

I was immediately disappointed. I had spent an enormous amount of time and energy writing practicing and preparing for the contest and I hadn’t even placed second. I started doubting whether my efforts were worth it. I wondered what my future role in Toastmasters should be. Maybe it was time to move in another direction?

All the way home I kick myself over my loss. When I got home I had ice cream and pizza. These are my comfort foods. When I woke up I wasn’t feeling much better.

Real problems

Around 9 AM I received a phone call. It was a high school that I had spoken to a few years ago. They were requesting me to speak later that day. I started coming up with excuses for why I shouldn’t go to the school. It was short notice. It was an hour drive. I was still feeling down over the contest loss the night before. But in the back of my mind I knew I should go speak to the students.

I broke my neck in a car accident and received a spinal cord injury over 24 years ago, and I have been speaking to schools about injury prevention since 2005. When I had spoken at the school a few years before, my speech was only part of a larger program.

Have you ever heard of a program called Every 15 Min.? Well, every fifteen minutes someone in the United States dies from a alcohol-related driving accident. This school has a program that brings that statistic to life.

Throughout the day someone dressed as the Grim Reaper walks around the school and every fifteen minutes takes a student out of the classroom and that student is not seen for the rest of the day. The student is presumed to have died somehow.

While this is happening, a team of students are putting together a video production simulating kids cutting school and drinking in the park. Later they get in the car and drive. They cause an accident where multiple students are killed and injured. Some of the students had been drinking, and they hit another car with students who hadn’t been drinking.

ambulanceThe police and EMTs arrive on the scene along with the fire department tearing up the car with the Jaws of life. The ambulance comes and takes them away. There is the scene at the hospital where parents break down after they are informed that their children have died, and others are told of severe injuries and paralysis.

There are other scenes that show students screaming and crying after hearing the news. At the end of the day the video production is shown to the entire junior and senior class in an auditorium. Afterwards, a few of the parents whose children were pulled out of class write imaginary eulogies of what they would have said at their child’s funeral. They also have a child who was pulled out of class by the Grim Reaper, come up on stage and address his parents with his regrets and apologies.

It’s a very powerful program! I cried and just about everyone else in the room did as well. You can see how clearly I remember it two years later. Well, that was the school that called me the morning after I lost the competition. They had scheduled this program again months before. They originally intended to have me speak for a few minutes. I was canceled without knowing why.

And then I received a call the morning after the competition. Apparently a few months back a recent graduate and some friends were driving when their car lost control and Nicole was ejected from the vehicle because she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. She was killed. They decided to cancel the Every Fifteen Minutes Program because they thought it would be too upsetting for some students and especially Nicole’s siblings who still attended the school. But they asked me that morning, if I would come in and share my experiences.

I spoke to 200 high schools who didn’t interrupt, or talk out of turn, even though there weren’t any teachers in the room for most of the presentation. I looked at them and saw their faces. They were listening. This wasn’t a distraction for them. One of them had been killed because she had been wearing a seatbelt. This was their reality.

Reality Check Immediately Adjusted My Perspective

Losing the speech competition was upsetting and disappointing, but nothing compared to what Nicole’s parents were going through. The high school presentation the day after the contest loss reminded me that my burdens are small in comparison. After I left the high school, my disappointment disappeared. I lost, but through practicing, and participating, I grew immensely.

If it hadn’t been for learning to speak at Toastmasters, I would never have been in front of those kids, with a chance to touch their hearts and with the possibly influencing them from making tragic decisions. Regardless of your current difficulties and perspective, you can use your obstacles. I’m challenging you to look, really look at your situation and ask yourselves what can I do to turn my difficulties into opportunities to improve my life and the lives of others?

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Can We Consciously Influence Our Health?

by Adam Blanning, MD

Personal note from Founder, David Lazaroff: Dr. Blanning is my physician. He is proof that personalized attention at a relaxed pace with holistic interventions at a reasonable cost is possible. Don’t we all deserve this?

When you ask the question, “Can we consciously influence our health?” of a large group of people, you are certain to get a variety of answers.  Some will say “yes, absolutely!” and will give you examples of how mindfulness exercises (like meditation), exercise, a healthy diet and good social connections all improve your health.  And there are indeed many clinical studies which have shown this to be true.  How we think, and what we decide to do can have a definite influence on who we are and how we live.

But there will also be a group of people who will say “no, not if you are really sick,” and can tell you that when you are having a gallbladder attack you can meditate as hard as you want, but what you really need is a surgeon.

street_signIn a similar way, anyone who has experienced a major depression (which seems like it should be more accessible to our thinking than an inflamed gallbladder) can tell you that feeling better is not a matter of merely sitting down and deciding to feel “happier.”  It doesn’t work like that.  So no, we can’t really influence our health with our consciousness, but we can.

The challenge is that the answer to the question seems to be both “yes!” and “no!” depending on who ask and what you are considering.

Similarly, polar attitudes also exist in the realm of therapeutics, where there again tends to be two schools: one that focuses on conversation and gaining insight; and one that strives to make conversation almost totally unnecessary (think of the ten minute doctor visit!).

In the first, more conversational stream, it is very important to learn who you are (as the patient) and then to acknowledge and work on yourself and on your situation.  This honors the individual.  It has many advantages, but there are situations where someone may talk for twenty years about who they are, and still never find a way to change.  They get stuck in their experience of their own personality.

On the other hand, in the stream of materialistic medicine which usually aims to treat a biochemical problem, the goal is to find a solution that will work for everyone, regardless of who the individual person is.  Large, blinded, randomized trials work very hard to eliminate the variations that are associated with individuals.

This helps foster objectivity, which is really important when you need to do something in the moment.  But in this stream you can lose your uniqueness, and just become a “colon” or a “tumor.”  Your identity in the medical world becomes synonymous your medical diagnosis.

Is there a middle path?  Yes, and this is why it is so wonderful to be able to use anthroposophic remedies that combines elements of conventional medicine with homeopathy and naturopathy.  Remedies help to guide you into a new way of being, beyond what you would be capable of on your own, but then also encourage the unfolding of a shift in consciousness and intention.

They are generally not as strong as conventional pharmaceutical medications, but that is because they are trying to open a door to a new way of being.  There is still freedom in the process.  With a traditional medication that reduces your blood pressure, or your cholesterol, the medicine works strongly while you are taking it, but you are no stronger if you stop taking it.

Anthroposophic medicine is different.  As an example: it is very common in the practice to have someone take a set of remedies for 6 to 12 weeks, feel a good change, and note an improvement in symptoms.

But they are not completely satisfied, because they recognize on some level that they need not just to take something, but to do something.  And the next visit ends up mostly being about consciousness and intention: “how can I, as an individual person, more consciously guide and participate in my life?”  A doorway to change has been opened.  Whether anything does change is mostly up to the individual.

Then, after some months when we may have lost some of our momentum for making individual change, it may be time to return to some (different) remedies.  And the cycle can repeat.  There is a natural breathing between receiving a remedy from the outside, taking it up, and then making a step on our own.

Children do this very easily: they receive guidance and assistance through taking remedies, which can accomplish something that verbal instructions won’t, and they are very often are able to take a new step of development.  For adults it is similar–we can’t accomplish everything on our own, but we also need to be active participants in guiding our lives–to receive some assistance, and then find new confidence within ourselves.  Taking hold and letting go.

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Beyond Coping: Having a Great Life!

Pam LeBlanc writes on Exercise helps patients cope with Alzheimer’s Disease.  Pam gives the example of John Duncan, a man with Alzheimer’s who enjoys life more with regular personal training than he did before personal training.  The personal training experience gives him better strength, balance, mobility, and cognitive function.  Thank you, Pam for a well written article.

To add to Pam’s article, I want to point out the depth of the impact that the personal training experience has on persons with Alzheimer’s such as John Duncan.  The impact goes far beyond “coping”.  When a person with Alzheimer’s is having a good time exercising, listening to music, making love, or simply holding hands, they are having a joyful life.

The word “coping” implies a contextual background of struggle, loss, or unfortunate circumstances.  Seeing a “background”, for the context of an activity or how an activity occurs for a participant, is a higher cognitive function.  Being aware of a context or background requires holding the past and future in mind at the same time with the present focus of attention.

old_womanAs Alzheimer’s progresses, background and context disappear as the mind only holds the present experience.  Even if it is a memory that is the focus of the moment, the particular memory is experienced in the present without an additional context.

For John Duncan, training is its own enjoyable experience.  During the workout, he is only present to his participation and is not concerned with whether or not he has Alzheimer’s, what he will do tomorrow, or what he used to have for a profession.

His experience is not one of coping, but one of enjoyment of movement, fitness, nature, and the companionship of his personal trainer.  He is free of worry and engaging in a workout in a way that is worthy of the aspirations of the most cognitively sound persons.  John is well cared for.  While enjoying his workout, John is having a great life!

Yes, exercise can improve the functions of the body, including the brain.  But, the real lesson here is that the goal of therapies and interventions deserves to go beyond coping, relieving symptoms, and restoring function. Sometimes restoration is something that will not happen.  The true goal is to have a great life, enjoying all that life offers that is available for the person to enjoy.

— David

David Lazaroff is author of Live It Up! 10 Ways to Share Joy When Your Friend Has Alzheimer’s.  David coaches family and friends of people with Alzheimer’s Disease in creating a fun and joyful life.  Contact

David is the founder of Holistic Community Living, a Colorado nonprofit founded to operate and teach others to operate neighborhood-based assisted living homes where people can complete their lives with those they love.

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Outcomes of Alzheimer’s Treatment: What Can We Strive For?

old_manThere is very little we can do to treat Alzheimer’s Disease.  Modern medicine currently has no path to eradicate Alzheimer’s from the body.  However, there are many ways we can treat people with Alzheimer’s. We do have the means to bring joy, love, and comfort to the person with Alzheimer’s and to their family and friends.

First: Don’t fight it.  Don’t resist it.  Let go of your dreams for a future that will never happen.  Reconnect with the purpose of your life.  Create a new dream consistent with the physical reality of Alzheimer’s Disease.  Living a life of love and joy will make a difference when you are with someone with Alzheimer’s.

Let’s take this one step at a time.

  1. Don’t fight it.  The usual desired outcome of the treatment of disease is the alleviation of symptoms and the return of function to levels prior to the onset of the condition.  With the therapies available for Alzheimer’s today, I’m sorry, that is not happening.  So, we have to adjust our expectations and create a new vision for the outcomes.
  2. Don’t resist it.  We can’t turn back the clock to regain the cognitive function prior to the onset of Alzheimer’s.  We can’t stop the progression of the brain deterioration.  Perhaps someday, but we can’t arrest this disease today.  Rivers will always flow from the mountains to the sea.  Carrying seawater up the mountain will only make you tired; it will not reverse the flow of the river.  Today, we have no way to reverse the cognitive decline of Alzheimer’s, so let’s collect our energy and go with the flow.
  3. Let go of your dreams for a future that will never happen.  You never planned on a life with Alzheimer’s Disease, so don’t be surprised if your dreams for your future are inconsistent with the presence of Alzheimer’s.  This attachment to a future that is now inconsistent with the reality of Alzheimer’s is the great source of disappointment and sadness that accompanies Alzheimer’s.  If you have Alzheimer’s, you’re not going to manage a large investment fund or be the project manager for the construction of a new skyscraper.  If your spouse has Alzheimer’s, your conversations are going to be different than they were in your spouse’s cognitive years.
  4. Reconnect with the purpose of your life.  Love, joy, beauty, companionship, contribution, and community are always available.  Sooner or later we all return to earth, ashes, and dust.  When our bodies are spent, we become the raw materials for new life.  The purpose of life has not changed since the dawn of time.  If your happiness is conditional upon the presence of something that did not exist two thousand years ago, then consider that you are disconnected from what is really lasting and nurturing.
  5. Create a new dream consistent with the physical reality of Alzheimer’s Disease.  Who will share the caring duties?  Who will share the love?  What do you like?  Who can you do it with?  What else will you find to do when Alzheimer’s withdraws an activity from your access?  This is where those with cognitive abilities must imagine and act for those with Alzheimer’s.
  6. Live a life of love and joy.  I prefer love and joy to the available alternatives.  You might not choose your physical diseases, but you can choose how you experience your life.  You choose what is important in life and to what you give your attention.  You can give your attention to losses and that which you do not have and will never have, or you can give your attention to what is available that you like and in which you find fulfillment.  The focus of your attention IS your experience of life.  I suggest you bring your attention to the love and joy in life.  If you don’t see it, keep looking.  It is there as long as the sun shines and the wind blows.  If you don’t experience the love and joy in life, then your attention is on other, non-joyful, matters.  Finding the joy and establishing yourself in it requires constant effort of the most rewarding kind.  Keep at it!

OK, your life is not as easy as reading a blog.  I suggest you gather with friends, family, and your community.  Having a joyful life requires working on finding joy and then working on cultivating joy.  It’s a big job that is most effectively done with others.  Can you think of a better purpose of your life or better outcome than love and joy?

— David

David Lazaroff is author of Live It Up! 10 Ways to Share Joy When Your Friend Has Alzheimer’s. David coaches family and friends of people with Alzheimer’s Disease in creating a fun and joyful life. Contact

David is the founder of Holistic Community Living, a Colorado nonprofit founded to operate and teach others to operate neighborhood-based assisted living homes where people can complete their lives with those they love.

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The Purpose of Life is Found in Caring

An editorial in The Florida Times-Union warns that the US is on a track to spend $40 trillion on Alzheimer’s care in the next 40 years.  Are there a solutions to this problem?

Yes, there are solutions.  These require new thinking.  The thinking that memory care needs to cost $84,000 per year is broken.  The lack of strong medical models for intervention, prevention and cure call for sustainable care models.

neighbors1The solution resides in our neighborhoods and families. Keep in mind that you have a place in these statistics!  The one-in-eight mentioned who will develop Alzheimer’s includes your parents, your siblings, your friends, your neighbors, and YOU!  Are you the one diagnosed or among the seven friends and family members?

So, let’s make it personal and assume that YOU have the diagnosis.  As your cognitive abilities decline, how will your emotional and spiritual health be cared for?  How will you avail yourself of the beauty and joy the world still offers?  Who do you want near you?  Whose face will bring you comfort?  Whose touch will make you feel alive?  What music will make your spirit dance?

You live in a place you love, don’t you?  Isn’t that why you moved into your neighborhood?  Do you have friends or family in your neighborhood?  Do you belong to a religious organization or service club in your neighborhood?  Do you know the people you see at the grocery store or hardware store or park or bus stop?  If the answer to all of these is “no”, then consider enjoying your neighborhood more or moving to someplace you can enjoy.

The current model of $84,000 per year care is based upon moving you away from your neighborhood to a place where strangers will attend to what needs they can until you are dead.  It may be a difficult long journey for your friends and loved ones to visit, so visits will be infrequent.  There’s not a budget to get you to your Rotary Club meetings where you’ve had lunch on Tuesdays for the last 30 years, so you will have to make due with whatever appears from the mysterious kitchen and an activity designed for people like you.  The problem is that you are not like other people and your friends and family know what you respond to on levels beyond cognition.

It costs about $100 per day or $36,500 per year to care for a person who is not well enough to live on their own.  Every neighborhood should have such a home.  This cost level is achieved at a home with 10 to 12 residents when there is a mixture of residents with and without cognitive impairments and physical impairments.  Concentrating and segregating persons with Alzheimer’s degrades YOUR quality of life, drives up costs, and isolates you from the life you have created for decades.

A solution involves creating a home in your neighborhood where you can go to complete your life when living in your home becomes unworkable.  The solution involves you participating in caring for your family member, friend, and neighbor while you are still able and receiving the care of others when you need to.

Your “primary caregiver” needs support and you need the support of more than one person.  It is a lot of hard work to keep joy afloat in your life and it is the most rewarding work!  Before your cognition declines too far, organize your friends and family with so that many people can share the effort of helping you complete your life in a loving, dignified and enjoyable way.

hospital1Caring for others is not a burden and distraction from the opportunities of life.  Caring for others, and being cared for, is the POINT of life.  Yes, I am revealing to you the meaning of life!  Remember that when we share the load, we can carry any weight.  When we share the work, we can build a structure of any size or a road of any length.  To ignore life’s opportunity to live and complete life in community is to be ignorant of the source of joy and happiness in the world.

The frailty that accompanies the completion of life is our invitation to participate fully in life.  When we engage in this process as a community, it is enriching.  When we outsource love and care, it is very, very expensive.

— David

David Lazaroff is author of Live It Up! 10 Ways to Share Joy When Your Friend Has Alzheimer’s.  David coaches family and friends of people with Alzheimer’s Disease in creating a fun and joyful life.  Contact

David is the founder of Holistic Community Living, a Colorado nonprofit founded to operate and teach others to operate neighborhood-based assisted living homes where people can complete their lives with those they love.

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Joy: The Antidote to Misery and Suffering

To pursue joy is not to whitewash the challenges and sadness of life.

depressionSadness, fear, and challenges are very real experiences.  These experiences distract us from the joys of life and it is critical to the happiness of everyone to complete them and move through them appropriately and NOT GET STUCK.  We see supporting examples of this in many cultures around rituals and practices of burial and grieving.  There is an appropriate (although not precisely fixed) time for grief and an appropriate time to move beyond grief.

There is a distinction between validating an experience of fear and validating that which is feared.  Here is an example from my past:  When caring for Carl through the early stages of Alzheimer’s, I have a valid experience of fear of handling his care when in the future he would become incontinent.

I know it will happen.  I’m grossed out by the thought of it.  Will he let me help him?  What if he is combative?  However, I do not need to validate incontinence as being fearsome.  Doing so would only impede my ability to move through my experience of fear and be prepared to handle assisting Carl with toileting and incontinence.  In truth, incontinence is not fearsome, it is just human hygiene.  It is also true that it is valid and common for people to have a fear of assisting the incontinent when they have no experience in doing so.

baseballSo, at that time of fear I look for what is joyful:  Carl is my friend.  He trusts me to care for him.  Making sure he is clean and comfortable is one way to express my love for him and give him a good life.  When I help him use the toilet at a concert hall, we can comfortably get back to our seats and enjoy the music.  When I help him in the family restroom at the stadium, we can get back to enjoying the ball game in comfort.

In this way, looking for joy helps us acknowledge, complete, and move through times of fear, sadness, and loss.  It is OK to experience these feelings.  It is not OK to be stuck there, bear with it, and just get through a miserable day to recreate the misery tomorrow.  That is a life of suffering and I insist we interrupt suffering with joy.  The alternative is unimpeded and uninterrupted suffering.  I’m not OK with that, are you?

I stand for people having joyful lives in any and every circumstance.  Will you join me?  What do you stand for?

Find your joy!

— David

David Lazaroff is author of Live It Up! 10 Ways to Share Joy When Your Friend Has Alzheimer’s. David coaches family and friends of people with Alzheimer’s Disease in creating a fun and joyful life. Contact

David is the founder of Holistic Community Living, a Colorado nonprofit founded to operate and teach others to operate neighborhood-based assisted living homes where people can complete their lives with those they love.

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Beautiful Mortality! A Letter to Those With Alzheimer’s

My Dear Friend,

Great sadness and disappointment are born of hope and attachment to a future that never was and never will be.  Waiting for joy in the future or looking for joy in the past denies us of the only source of joy: the present.  We only experience love in the present.  We only experience laughter in the present.  Even our memories are only experienced in the present.

woodsIn a blink of time we are born, live our lives, and are gone.  There is always one part of the body that malfunctions first.  With Alzheimer’s it is the brain.  Some people live only minutes, others hours, others years, and some live for decades.  Very few live more than a century.

Who are we to complain that we are mortal?  It is our mortality that gives us appreciation and beauty.  It is in our mortality that we experience our senses, love, friendship, and companionship.  As your Alzheimer’s progresses, your body and your emotions will still respond to touch, music, and warmth.  As your brain fails you, celebrate the rest of your being.  Surround yourself with love, laughter, and colors.  Give the gift of a cheerful countenance to those you love and your love will live on in them after your body is gone.  That is how people have lived from the dawn of human kind.  The names of our ancestors are gone, their worldly deeds are gone, but we still can experience their joy in the language and culture left for us.

oceanFind joy in this world, my friend.  Find joy in trees, in animals, in the wind, and in the sea.  Find joy in the eyes of your family, in their breath, and in their heartbeats.  Search for joy in no moment other than the present.  Long for no past or future.  The promise of life is here and now and it is beautiful!  In a hundred years we remain in the love we live today.

With all my love,


David Lazaroff is author of Live It Up! 10 Ways to Share Joy When Your Friend Has Alzheimer’s.  David coaches family and friends of people with Alzheimer’s Disease in creating a fun and joyful life.  Contact

David is the founder of Holistic Community Living, a Colorado nonprofit founded to operate and teach others to operate neighborhood-based assisted living homes where people can complete their lives with those they love.

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