Justice O'Connor's story puts focus on Alzheimer's -
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#1 Nov 15, 2007
I am sorry for her woes. But she should be used to dealing with senile old men from her days on the Supreme Court.
#2 Nov 16, 2007
The decision to "put a loved on in an institution" is not always "devastating." Finding a comfortable living situation for a person with dementia can be the opposite of devastating. A good institution provides the structure and support that a person needs, with ongoing stimulation from other residents, visitors, therapy animals, and a 24-hour care by a tag team of people who have chosen the caregiving profession for a reason (good hearts, compassionate souls, tireless bodies). Further, you don't "lose" a person who changes. If you're not demented, you have the capability to go with the flow and accept your loved person as she or he is, in the moment, not who you would want him or her to be in YOUR ideal world. Compassion is central. There is no greater lesson in compassion than finding a way to let a loved one have what he or she needs, even if that means some people have to let go of egocentric needs and control. One final point: Many families are integrated into institutions. They don't just visit. They go enough to become a part of the fabric of the loved one's new life, even if that fabric includes new patches of color. They continue a relationship alongside the new relationships that may or may not grow. Seeing a light linger in the eye of a person with Alzheimer's, whatever the source, if there is no harm, is more important than mourning memories of a different past or a future that will not happen.
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