We each have rights over our own life and it’s quality. We each have the responsibility of examining end of life issues and coming to an opinion we can stand behind.
I want to offer another frame: What if it is not so much the roads we choose, but the way we walk them, and the fact that we continue to walk them, that makes all the difference?
Agism cuts both ways, discriminating against both the so-called ‘young’ and ‘old,’ and turns these two seemingly innocuous words into pejoratives. When ‘young’ and ‘old’ are used colloquially rather than as they were intended (as comparative markers of time) they become profane.
Culture change starts with people change and people change starts with community and conversation (preferably over good food!). This concept is captured by the ancient latin term “convivium.” Simply put, the pleasure of good food shared in good company is a springboard to conversation and, sometimes, action.
When you think of your life and the record you want to leave behind, do your accumulated possessions, job titles and accomplishments really do you justice? The process of aging can teach us the value of the intangibles in a life story, including the importance of community and the worth of a given moment.
Once we can remove our value from being attached to our bodies we can ask: what then are our bodies if they are not us? They are ours. By this I mean that while we are not our bodies, our bodies are our own. Our bodies are a precious gift that allow us to be in this world, to be able to communicate and form relationships and grow.
In a sea of self-help books and self-promoting how-to’s, The Penelope Project: An Arts-Based Odyssey to Change Elder Care is a comprehensive guide, showing us how to work within systems and change them for the better from the inside.
We know what the experience of Alzheimer’s looks like from the outside and its correlation with age is undeniable. We do not know the exact culprit, or combination of culprits, of these experiences; therefore, classing it as a disease to be eradicated is to put the proverbial cart before the horse.