Sitting in the waiting room at the dentist office, is not an unusual thing for me these days.
What is unusual is seeing and meeting a 99 year old woman, with whom I struck up a very pleasant conversation with while we both waited.
She spoke to me about a teacher she'd had, when she was just 16 years old. I knew of him I said, and told her he was still living in the area of Nova Scotia where I lived. I mentioned he was not well, with dementia. She could remember the details of her whole life, but wasn't good with names, she commented. When she told me her age, and that she still had all her teeth, and that were all over 90 years old, as she laughed. Her mind was sharp and lucid. I was very amazed and impressed by this beautiful sweet soul.
She made me think of the item I heard today about dementia, an interview with jounalist, author, civil rights activist and educator Johnathan Kozol. His new book, Losing My Father One Day at a Time is about his father, the brilliant neurologist Harry Kozol, and how Alzheimers disease had affected their relationship. It was a touching, wonderful interview, and he has so many insights about this disease.
I haven't had family members that have suffered from long term dementia, or Alzheimers, but I am all too familiar with several life threatening illnesses. Disease is disease regardless of what kind it is, every one has to learn how to cope and live with it the best way they know how, and education is key.
Considering how dementia is on the rise, it is so important that as an aging society we educate and prepare ourselves for this fact.
Johnathan Kozol's does much to enlighten and educate about dementia, and I am certain his book will do a great deal to change misconceptions, and perceptions about the disease. His words and experience will deeply touch hearts, no doubt.
I've posted a video that was taken in 2007 Letters To A Young Teacher that gives you an impression of the kind of man Johnathan Kozol is, and you will agree with me. The world needs more people like him.