Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Grandma & Alzheimer's

I just got back from a wedding in Atlanta with lots of family. My mom informed me sadly that my grandmother's Alzheimer's is worsening. Then I return to find this article on the dreaded disease in the latest online edition of First Things by a Case Western Reserve bioethicist.
Observers estimate, and my personal experience confirms, that 90 percent of Americans who are diagnosed with dementia pray. They are, it seems, thrown back onto whatever faith they have in the loving and beneficent purposes underlying the universe. They are shaken existentially, and many begin this final phase of their lives with a profound recovery of spirituality.
Meanwhile, Brave New World desperately wants to sacrifice more fetuses in our War on Disability, for what could be more dehumanizing than Alzheimer's? And if genetic therapies don't work, there's always euthanasia. Brave New World merely interprets religiosity in demented patients as a byproduct of neurological degeneration. I'm actually torn. I just wouldn't wish Alzheimer's on anyone, except maybe the Brave New World prophets.