As a professional in the field of aging, Sara had seen it all—until her own mother broke her hip at the age of 88 and became profoundly confused, unable to live in her own home. Join Sara on her journey through the strangeness that is dementia while trying to make sense of it all and finding humor in the details. [Editor's note: Sara no longer contributes to Silver Planet, but we have made her archived blog entries available as a service to our readers.]
My friend and co-worker Barbara Green, MSW, gave me an article titled “Genug Syndrome,” which recounts the story of an old woman diagnosed with dementia. Genug is a Yiddish word that roughly translates to “enough already!” Published in the June 11, 2008, edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the article was about the end of the woman’s life—the very end—moments before her final exit.
Last month Barbara conducted an interview with my mother, at my request, in an effort to create my mother’s ethical will. My filmmaker friend Karen Perry taped the interview. An ethical will is a statement made to friends and family about nonmaterial things the will maker wishes to pass on, such as family values, advice, family culture, requests, or expressions of appreciation.
I just viewed the wonderful film Karen made. Barbara did a fine job. Despite my mother’s disability, she managed to draw out her personal essence. I am so glad I decided to go ahead with the event.
The taping was one month ago. When comparing my mother’s cognition this month to that of last month, when we taped the ethical will, I see that the decline is striking. I asked Barbara, an expert in Alzheimer’s disease, how far down can cognition decline while the body remains alive?
“A long time,” Barbara said.
When is it time to say “Genug! Enough already!”
For more information about ethical wills, go to www.ethicalwill.com.
By Sara Myers
The Good Enough Daughter Blog