5- A Better Life
1. How many residents at Chase Memorial had some form of cognitive disability?
2. What did Thomas confuse with what, when first trying to address the "despair" he encountered at Chase?
3. What was attractive to Thomas about going home from Harvard for a family medicine residency?
4. What are the Three Plagues of nursing home existence?
5. What happened with drugs and deaths at Chase?
6. What was the most important finding of Thomas's experiment?
BONUS: What did Josiah Royce mean by "loyalty"?
BONUS: What's "the only way death is not meaningless"?
BONUS: What late legal philosopher said we need autonomy in the sense of being free to author our own lives?
BONUS: In Green Houses like the Florence Center, caregivers are more like ____ than _____.
1. If the ER is the opposite of a nursing home, which environment is more attractive to you? Or is neither? What can be done to improve either or both?
2. Besides adding children, animals and plants, what would you suggest doing to humanize and vitalize the climate in nursing homes?
3. Not many professionals in any field choose to live "completely off the grid" or manage a farm. Would the medical profession benefit from the presence of more self-reliant, "free spirit" types? Do these qualities evoke greater empathy or care? Or possibly less?
4. Do you agree that the best way to combat a stagnant culture is to subvert it, and blow it up with a Big Bang? 120
5. Should nursing staff be expected or required to clean up after dogs and cats etc.? Can "beautiful subversion" coexist with conventional notions of professionalism?
*6. Does it matter to you what happens to life on earth an hour after you die? Does it matter more to medical professionals in general?
7. Middle schoolers taking fitness classes together with nursing home residents, and working with dementia: good ideas? (132) And: "They still get to make poor choices for themselves if they choose." (135)
8. "Making lives meaningful in old age is new." (137) Is it? "There's no such thing as a tippy doctor." (138) Isn't there?
The journalist Michael Kinsley was 43 when he learned he had Parkinson’s disease, and about 50 when he announced that fact to the world. Parkinson’s is a slow sickness. (“You still have to floss,” his neurologist told him.) Mr. Kinsley is now 65, with body more or less intact, and wits entirely so, if his superb new book is any indication.
“Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide” isn’t really about Parkinson’s. It’s about aging in general. More specifically, it’s about how the baby boomer generation, which is now rounding third base like a herd of buffalo and stampeding for home plate (which is a hole in the ground, as the novelist Jim Harrison liked to say), will choose to think and act in the face of it.
“Sometimes I feel like a scout from my generation, sent out to experience in my 50s what even the healthiest boomers are going to experience in their 60s, 70s or 80s,” Mr. Kinsley writes. “There are far worse medical conditions than Parkinson’s, and there are far worse cases of Parkinson’s than mine. But what I have, at the level I have it, is an interesting foretaste of our shared future.”
Mr. Kinsley put off telling people about his medical condition, partly out of denial. Also, he didn’t want to tap too early into the “vat of sympathy from friends and family.” He was concerned that he’d be written off professionally. He reports being offered the editorship of The New Yorker in 1998, five years after his diagnosis. The result, in terms of how others would view his condition, was dismaying.
“I told the owner, Si Newhouse, that I had Parkinson’s and invited him to change his mind, but he generously said it didn’t matter,” Mr. Kinsley writes. “A few hours later, though, he withdrew the offer with no explanation. I chose to believe him that the Parkinson’s didn’t matter. To withdraw the offer for that reason would be, among other things, probably illegal. But I also doubt that he would have made the offer in the first place if he’d known.”
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Balancing Faith and Science in the I.C.U. nyti.ms/1D0DxCS
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I believe in life after death.