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Finding Balance And Dignity Among The Chaos Of Dementia

US National Institute on Aging, Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral Center

Dementia is the broad term which refers to diseases which result in a significant loss of cognitive ability.

Alzheimer’s disease is one of the worst manifestations of dementia.

A symposium at Washington University in St. Louis this week aims to be a gathering place for people struggling to find balance and dignity among the chaos of dementia.

The symposium, “Finding Humanity in Advanced Dementia,” will feature experts in the fields of patient care, psychology, philosophy, medicine, neuroscience, and family caregiving.  The goal is to “discuss the effect of severe cognitive loss on people with dementia and those who care for them [while seeking ways] to honor the dignity of individuals coping with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.”

Questions to be raised at the event include:

  • Does a human being with Alzheimer's disease stop being a person?
  • What can people with advanced dementia still do?
  • How can we honor the dignity of individuals coping with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias?

Host Don Marsh spoke with Richard Rubin, a software developer and lecturer of philosophy at University College at Washington University, and Dr. Marcus Raichle, a professor of radiology, neurology, neurobiology and biomedical engineering at Washington University. 
Both Rubin and Raichle have personal experiences with dementia.

Rubin’s wife, Rebecca Barnard, was diagnosed with dementia seven years ago when she was 53 years old.  Her dementia is now quite advanced.

Raichel’s aunt, who is more than 90 years old, started painting only after she developed Alzheimer’s disease.

Marsh also spoke with Carl Craver, Professor of Philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis.  Craver played a big role in creating the symposium, which is an interdisciplinary effort sponsored by the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program at Washington University.

Related Event

Washington University in St. Louis Presents a Symposium “Finding Humanity in Advanced Dementia”
Saturday, April 27, 2013
1:00 - 7:30 p.m.
Registration suggested at wustldementiasymposium@gmail.com.
Location: Washington University's Wilson Hall, Room 214

More information available here.

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Alex is the executive producer of "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.
Mary Edwards is a producer for St. Louis Public Radio's broadcast program, "St. Louis Symphony."
Don Marsh served as host of St. Louis Public Radio’s “St. Louis on the Air" from 2005 to 2019, bringing discussions of significant topics to listeners' ears at noon Monday through Friday. Don has been an active journalist for 58 years in print, radio and television. He has won 12 Regional Emmy Awards for writing, reporting, and producing. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, was inducted into the St. Louis Media Hall of Fame in 2013, and named “Media Person of the Year” by the St. Louis Press Club in 2015. He has published three books: his most recent, “Coming of Age, Liver Spots and All: A Humorous Look at the Wonders of Getting Old,” “Flash Frames: Journey of a Journeyman Journalist” and “How to be Rude (Politely).” He holds an honorary Doctor of Arts and Letters degree from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.