Graceful exit

My husband's choice

As a Presbyterian pastor, my husband, Bob, had always been sympathetic when a parishioner became trapped by dementia. His views on dealing with dementia had been shaped by his father, a man of deep Christian faith and an active layman. When his father began to decline mentally in his late sixties, he explained to Bob that a pattern of late-onset dementia in the family was now affecting his generation—and that his was the sixth one affected. (Only one of the six children reached 70 without mental impairment.) In his last years, Bob’s father often quoted the old axiom, “Pneumonia is an old man’s best friend.” Progressing dementia forced him to retire at 70, and he eventually had to be placed in a nursing home. Before long he began refusing food and exercise.


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