Friday, February 04, 2005

On not going gentle

I'm working on a case involving a man with an Alzheimer's- related dementia who entered a nursing home to die a long, lingering death. The experts call it "death by a thousand subtractions." The body gets instructions from the mind to do certain things without an understanding of why, for that upper level of understanding is gone. So for example, a woman who had spent her life putting food on the table and washing the dishes might go around the room clearing tables and generally upsetting apple-carts. While it might appear irrational, if you knew her life story, you, at least, would know why. And you (if you worked for the nursing home) would actually be able to manage, to an extent, the behavior of your patients if you understood more about their life stories. For someone who'd been a woodworker, you might give him some wood to carve (monitoring closely the use of sharp objects). For someone who had been a gardener, you might create a small, waist-level garden to tend.

What would the nurses do for me? Pared to essentials, what would be left, I expect, would be hands looking for a keyboard, fingers rattling away, fast as blue blazes. Somebody please, just give me a keyboard (if they're still around). There's no telling what I'll write.

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