Alzheimer’s Disease the Great Unlearning

aging in place

I often hear people say that a person suffering from Alzheimer’s is not the person they knew. I wonder to myself – Who are they then?

–Bob DeMarco


Aging in Place

The Present-absence and the long-good-bye of Alzheimer’s disease is heart-breaking. I sat with my once brilliant friend, Frances Gabe, holding her hand and longing for the excursions into the deep end of ideas that we once shared. But that is in the past; to quote Chuck Heston quoting Shakespeare in his statement, they bade farewell and “melted into air, into thin air.”

The unraveling of a life in the mind of a person with Alzheimer’s disease has been described as “the great unlearning,” the “demise of consciousness.” Just what does disease uncover about the nature of being human? What’s left when memory dissolves “into thin air?” What role does Alzheimer’s play in our fears of growing older and ageism?

To hear a engrossing and enlightened discussion on these issues listen to Krista Tippett, host of on Being for National Public Radio Alzheimer’s Memory and Being.

See also “Intimations of the Great Unlearning: Inter-religious Spirituality and the Demise of Consciousness which is Alzheimer’s”

by Gisela Webb.



The Myth of the Unending Frontier

The underlying basis of ageism is the dread and fear of
growing older, becoming ill and dependent, and approaching death.
People are afraid, and that leads to profound ambivalence.  The
young dread aging, and the old envy youth.  Behind ageism is
corrosive narcissism, the inability to accept our fate, for indeed
we are all in love with our youthful selves, as is reflected in
the yearning behind the expression ‘salad days.’  Although
undoubtedly universal, ageism in the United States is probably
fueled by the worship of youth in a still-young country dominated
by the myth of the unending frontier…”


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