Tuesday, November 20, 2018
Growing Old Is Not For Sissies
The Alzheimer's Organization speculates that an estimated 5.7 million Americans of all ages in 2018 live with dementia. One in ten people over the age of 65 years suffers from dementia. In this country, today, someone develops dementia every 65 seconds.
The American Journal of Medicine defines dementia as any decline in cognition significant enough to interfere with independent, daily function. It goes on to say that dementia is characterized as a syndrome rather than as one particular disease. However, the late Oliver Sacks once observed that when we are young we forget our keys and when we find them say to ourselves, "That was careless of me to forget my keys." However, when we are older, Sacks observes, when we forget our keys we immediately assume we are descending into dementia instead of simply reminding ourselves that all we did was forget our keys. We live under the shadow of possible dementia. It seems to relentlessly hover over us.
It's been over 50 years since Elaine May was last on Broadway.
Ben Brantley, in his review for the New York Times, warns us that Elaine May as Gladys Green will likely break out hearts. "An octogenarian New Yorker, former lawyer and perpetual hostess for whom schmoozing and kibitzing have always been as essential as breathing, Gladys operates on the principle that if she can just continue to talk, she can surely power through the thickening fog of her old age. That she has clearly already lost this battle makes her no less valiant." What we learn from May's Gladys Green is the essential nature of living in and delighting in this very moment. Both Gladys and we know that it might very well be the only one we have.