NY Times article: Our irrational fear of forgetting

A 22 May 2011 NY Times op-ed piece entitled “Our irrational fear of forgetting” raised questions around societal attitudes toward Alzheimer’s or more specifically, people who appear to have Alzheimer’s.

A few highlights I picked out:

• The writer warns of doctors who use the label of Alzheimer’s as a rationale for stopping life-sustaining treatments, such as dialysis.

• The writer warns of negative social and societal attitudes toward forgetfulness and senility, portrayed as well as reinforced by public media, such as apparently a current off Broadway play by Tony Kushner in which a retiree who ‘guesses’ that he has Alzheimer’s wants to sell his house and then kill himself; or the movie Poetry in which a woman who is told she has Alzheimer’s-though she is only shown in the film forgetting one word-jumps off of a bridge.

• The writer points out the high risk of being placed in the child role (baby talk, being patronized, treated like children), and even the non-person role (i.e., being seen as losing one’s personhood when one is perceived to have or actually does have significant memory trouble). In this vein, the writer emphasizes that human beings are more than just their ability to remember, and that people who have significant cognitive impairment and/or memory loss are still persons, can still enjoy family life and contribute to others.

• In a few anecdotes about her own mother, the writer it seems to me invites readers to step into her mother’s shoes (interpersonal identification).

• The writer calls for positive change in our societal values and attitudes toward elders as well as people with significant cognitive impairment (NB: relevant to SRV’s call for change on all levels, from the personal to the societal).


Posted on June 10, 2011 at 1:27 pm by MTumeinski · Permalink
In: Uncategorized · Tagged with: , , ,

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