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Aging Together

, 256 pages
May 2011



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Aging Together

Dementia, Friendship, and Flourishing Communities

Table of Contents

Never in human history have there been so many people entering old age—roughly one-third of whom will experience some form of neurodegeneration as they age. This seismic demographic shift will force us all to rethink how we live and deal with our aging population.

Susan H. McFadden and John T. McFadden propose a radical reconstruction of our societal understanding of old age. Rather than categorizing elders based on their cognitive consciousness, the McFaddens contend that the only humanistic, supportive, and realistic approach is to find new ways to honor and recognize the dignity, worth, and personhood of those journeying into dementia. Doing so, they argue, counters the common view of dementia as a personal tragedy shared only by close family members and replaces it with the understanding that we are all living with dementia as the baby boomers age, particularly as early screening becomes more common and as a cure remains elusive. The McFaddens' inclusive vision calls for social institutions, especially faith communities, to build supportive, ongoing friendships that offer hospitality to all persons, regardless of cognitive status.

Drawing on medicine, social science, philosophy, and religion to provide a broad perspective on aging, Aging Together offers a vision of relationships filled with love, joy, and hope in the face of a condition that all too often elicits anxiety, hopelessness, and despair.

Susan H. McFadden is professor emerita of psychology at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh. She writes extensively on aging, religion, and spirituality. John T. McFadden is Memory Care Chaplain at the Appleton Health Care Center.

"A serious, scholarly, and sensitive book."

"This must-read volume will inspire the reader to contemplate the call to care for others with self-giving love. Highly recommended."

"This is not a how-to handbook but a kindly and perhaps over-optimistic general discussion that will be of interest to caregivers, particularly Americans, and particularly those coming from a religious background. The rest of us can all gain something from it too, however... Aging Together reminds us that warmth and friendship can be maintained in trying situations."

"Readable and useful...Anyone who wants to teach, practise or encourage person-centred care for people with dementia will find a lot in this book."

"This is not just a book about ageing, dementia, and friendship; it is a book that will take the reader on a journey that will, hopefully, leave them in a better place than where they started... An excellent account of travelling along the dementia road."

"A compelling call to arms for a more caring, related society—a flourishing community—from which all can benefit, and in which all have a part to play."

" Aging Together offers a prophetic perspective by challenging our socially constructed versions of reality and our tendency to look for medical miracles and cures. Instead we should work to create communities that are hospitable to the cognitively impaired."

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