In Dance Until the Music Stops, Esther Gropper has provided a charming addition to a familiar genre of first-hand reports from the frontlines of old age. A resident of an assisted living facility in Palm Beach, Florida, she has an inspiring outlook on life, despite the many personal trials and tragedies she has experienced in the course of her 91 years.
Gropper was the daughter of a mentally ill mother who was often hospitalized throughout her childhood. She was twice a widow; in her second marriage, she endured the sadness and isolation of caring for a husband with Alzheimer’s disease. Despite it all, Gropper refused to give into depression or self-pity.
Throughout a briskly upbeat text, she introduces us to her fellow residents, many of them good friends and one a devoted boyfriend. She offers advice on how to live a happy and fulfilling life even with infirmities and loss. Although her words of wisdom could be of use to almost anyone, they are directed to those among the elderly who are struggling with depression and lack of purpose. Much of her advice is familiar – stay engaged with others, cultivate intimate relationships, keep learning new things, exercise, eat right, do what makes you happy – but it bears repeating. Her chapters cover such pertinent topics as “Finding New Interests,” “Accepting the Changes,” “Romance and Sex,” “Loneliness,” and the like.
In addition to the book’s appeal to the “old old,” those who care for them – including psychotherapists, gerontologists, social workers, and others – might find this personal account from someone who is successfully navigating a challenging life stage of interest.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.