I think it strange and disheartening that as a society, once a friend or a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the overwhelming reaction is to feel primary sympathy for the spouse and family, rather than for those struck down. It seems that after the initial blow has been absorbed, we are very quick to diminish, and then sever, emotional connections with those losing their short term memory. For many of us, half a man, is no man at all.
As our American families rush inexorably into our dementia epidemic, the most frequently unspoken question is, “when is the individual gone”? Or put more prosaically, if my mom can no longer recognize her children, is my mother gone and is the husk of her body a simple vestige of only my memory, but not her soul as her spiritual journey has seemingly ended. This is the heart wrenching dilemma of what some mistakenly call the state of the living dead.