One view of Alzheimer’s — if a bit cynical and simplistic— is this: a filter is being turned off that enhanced our social success in the earlier decades of our time on the planet. As we near our end (so the theory goes), we begin to disengage from it, becoming less polite, less nice, less kind.
Or it just takes longer and longer naps. Here’s an example.
A ninety-two-year-old I know sees her daughter enter the room, gets tear-y, and says, “Oh, I’m so glad to see you! I thought you’d never visit!”, holds her arms up for an embrace, and everyone gets sentimental. Nice, huh? Love Endures, right?
Moments later, her favorite moment of the day is announced: “Bingo, Everybody!” and she glances toward her daughter, scowls, and dismisses her with a scornful “Okay, you can leave now!” Not so nice, huh? Oh, dear; that hurts.
The Tale Wagged
Underneath, might we all be somewhat. . . closet “dementia-ed”? Are Grumpy Old Men and Women arriving at a time when they can get along without all that hard work of Fitting In, and, so long as food and entertainment opportunities are available, they prefer to, mainly, just be Left Alone? Emptying the suitcase for the flight?
Just wondering. But it does seem safe to say, “Better not take anything personally!”
Or, as the great neurobiologist, Jimi Hendrix, said, “It’s all in your mind. Don’t pay it no mind.” (But that may sound suspiciously grumpy.)
Get some of your dying done early.
Yeah, but how do we put it into practice?
It’s very hard to be “unconditionally present,” to “not take it personally,” because our ego steadily and reliably keeps us centerstage. You’d think it would be easier with a Alzheimer’s victim: after all, they have a built-in excuse; it ought to be easier to cut them some slack.
Not! I WANT to be connected! It feels lonely to “not take it personally.” How dare they treat ME that way!?
So, if you’re ready for a change, experiment with trading ‘hurt feelings’ for ‘lonely’ or ‘being non-attached’ or whatever label works for you. Can I be with people without strings (expectations), so that they can just be?