Thursday, November 11, 2010
We are Susan McFadden, a gerontologist/psychologist who teaches at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, and John McFadden, an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ who currently serves as workplace chaplain for Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin. Together we have written a book titled Aging Together: Dementia, Friendship and Flourishing Communities, to be published by Johns Hopkins University Press in spring of ’11. In this book and in our public speaking, we encourage people to think about aging in general and various forms of memory loss in particular in new ways-not as a tragedy, not as a “private” matter affecting only the individual and his/her immediate family, but as a new chapter in life’s journey that is lived in the midst of friends and community. We discuss how we can share the gifts of friendship – laughter, joy and love – with our friend even if our friend no longer remembers who we are. We challenge the fear of dementia which leads friends, and communities, to withdraw from persons living with dementia. With many more persons poised to journey into later life and the possibility of memory loss and no “cure” on the near horizon, we need to think and act in new ways so that we can honor, value and enjoy our friends as we accompany them on this journey. We are ALL living with dementia!