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Supreme Court Justice Knows It Is Best to Let Alzheimer's Patients Forget the Past
abcnews.con ^ | Nov.13 2007 | DAVID WRIGHT

Posted on 11/13/2007 4:03:19 PM PST by pfsmd

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has been happily married to her law school sweetheart, John O'Connor, since 1952.

John O'Connor has Alzheimer's disease and lives in a Phoenix home care facility, where he has found a new girlfriend. Story Send Us Your Questions About Living With Alzheimer's

Speaking to a Phoenix TV station this week, O'Connor's son, Scott, described his father as acting "like a teenager in love" and says his mother is happy for him.

Unusual as that sounds, doctors say the O'Connors' situation is not uncommon.

Dr. Walter Fanburg at Arbor Place Dementia Care says, "The idea that [Justice O'Connor] is comfortable with her husband being comfortable in another relationship is terrific."

"Handholding, kissing, hugging -- that happens a lot," says Fanburg, "I've seen relationships go from handholding, hugging and kissing to real sexual relationships."

There is a complicated ethical dimension to this disease that the former justice inevitably experienced. Think of it this way: How enforceable is the lifelong contract of marriage for someone who doesn't remember the marriage?

(Excerpt) Read more at abcnews.go.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: alzheimers; healthcare; oconnor
This was broadcast on ABC World News Tonight this evening. Are there no limits to the intrusion of the privacy of public figures? And how can her husband give consent to have his private life displayed on national television when he is demented from Alzheimer's disease. And his behavior is a function of his dementia ? Are there no limits to how low the values can fall in our media?
1 posted on 11/13/2007 4:03:21 PM PST by pfsmd
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To: pfsmd

This is nihilism.

I would never want my family to send me off to strangers and then rejoice as I, in my illness, break my marriage vows.

Then, as a final insult, to gossip about it to the whole world.


2 posted on 11/13/2007 4:10:30 PM PST by donna (Obama is a Moslem.)
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To: pfsmd

No there is no limits. They wallow up from the bottom of a cesspool daily to report their slant. I have known a couple of Alzheimer patients that this happened to and the families were emotionally disturbed by this. In one case the children could not bear to visit the Father and he was very active at the time. Even called the “girlfriend” by the Mothers name.


3 posted on 11/13/2007 4:10:53 PM PST by WVNight (We havn't played Cowboys and Muslims yet....)
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To: donna
I agree with you.

This story is incredibly sad.

4 posted on 11/13/2007 4:11:53 PM PST by GiovannaNicoletta
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To: pfsmd

I guarantee you that if this was Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her husband in the same situation, the story would be on the cutting room floor, with the reporter in deep doo-doo, as it should be.


5 posted on 11/13/2007 4:13:57 PM PST by ssaftler (Which Al is more deadly: Al Qaeda or Al Gore?)
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To: pfsmd
Are there no limits to the intrusion of the privacy of public figures?

There isn't on private figures so why should there be on public figures?

And how can her husband give consent to have his private life displayed on national television when he is demented from Alzheimer's disease.

He can't.

And his behavior is a function of his dementia ?

Probably.

Are there no limits to how low the values can fall in our media?

No. They are playing limbo.

6 posted on 11/13/2007 4:14:00 PM PST by Harmless Teddy Bear (A good marriage is like a casserole, only those responsible for it really know what goes into it.)
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To: pfsmd

“This was broadcast on ABC World News Tonight this evening. Are there no limits to the intrusion of the privacy of public figures? And how can her husband give consent to have his private life displayed on national television when he is demented from Alzheimer’s disease. And his behavior is a function of his dementia ? Are there no limits to how low the values can fall in our media?”

I do not understand, you feel this way and are apparently disturbed by it; but then republish it on FR.

.....Bob


7 posted on 11/13/2007 4:17:32 PM PST by Lokibob (Some people are like slinkys. Useless, but if you throw them down the stairs, you smile.)
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To: pfsmd

Unlike academic survey, where respondents have to give written consent even for questions such as ‘how do you pronounce R?’, journalists do not have to answer to any ethical board.


8 posted on 11/13/2007 4:18:14 PM PST by paudio
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To: pfsmd
Par for the course in a country that shows colonoscopies on TV and loves watching TV cameras barge into a bedroom where people are having sex.

Why isn't this considered private medical information? Hospitals won't release a anything anymore because of tough federal laws and regs. And I don't see how the patient, or patients, could possibly consent to have their information released.

Plus, you know despite all the happy talk about how wonderful this is, there has to be pain. They've lost their husband and father even though he's still alive. How awful.

9 posted on 11/13/2007 4:20:01 PM PST by colorado tanker (I'm unmoderated - just ask Bill O'Reilly)
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To: donna
I agree with you that publicizing this is amazingly cheap and tawdry and the fact that O’Connor is “thrilled” for him is also sad (if not sickening).But if his Altzheimer’s is far advanced how can anyone accuse him of having “broken his marriage vows”? I don’t know if you’ve ever seen it but I’ve seen Altzheimer’s (and similar neurological illnesses) up close and,on the one hand,there’s *nothing* “joyful” about them and there’s *nothing* “blameworthy” about them on the other hand.
10 posted on 11/13/2007 4:28:38 PM PST by Gay State Conservative (Wanna see how bad it can get? Elect Hillary and find out.)
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To: Gay State Conservative

It goes beyond tawdry, I sense another agenda demeaning marriage.


11 posted on 11/13/2007 4:36:18 PM PST by Andy'smom
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To: pfsmd

Another possibility:

Having witnessed another similar case in a friend’s family, I think the word “thrilled” is probably not accurate and would more likely be “relieved”.

The sad truth is that Alzheimer’s patients often lose inhibitions and act in ways that they never would have before dementia set in. Often this manifests itself in anger, contrariness, disruptive and even mean behavior. After seeing these negative behaviors among other patients, I, too, would be relieved if my loved one progressed through the disease pleasantly instead of with belligerence.


12 posted on 11/13/2007 4:45:47 PM PST by Jedidah
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To: ssaftler
I guarantee you that if this was Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her husband in the same situation, the story would be on the cutting room floor, with the reporter in deep doo-doo, as it should be.

I read elsewhere that Justice O'Connorr chose to publicize this in order to educate people about Alzheimer's Disease. I don't think the story would have run otherwise.

13 posted on 11/13/2007 4:48:19 PM PST by Lurking Libertarian (Non sub homine, sed sub Deo et lege)
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To: pfsmd

Utterly bizarre.


14 posted on 11/13/2007 4:49:57 PM PST by Lancey Howard
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To: pfsmd

I have had both parents suffer from this disease. I would only add a caution against reading too much into this story based on the limited info we have. We don’t know his condition.

It obvious the author’s agenda is stir things up so we have to keep that in mind also. My experience is these patient’s memories of their spouse is the last to go. So by the time they don’t know who their spouse is they are pretty far gone and not likely to remember new acquaintances in a nursing home while also forgetting a spouse. Remember in “First 50 dates” how Adam Sandller had to start over each day. So I find the whole scenario unlikely as written or in any case the relationship with the new person would be quite different from what most people view as a “love relationship” due to their illness. So this is tacky and misleading journalism.


15 posted on 11/13/2007 4:54:36 PM PST by plain talk
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To: pfsmd

I have had both parents suffer from this disease. I would only add a caution against reading too much into this story based on the limited info we have. We don’t know his condition.

It obvious the author’s agenda is stir things up so we have to keep that in mind also. My experience is these patient’s memories of their spouse is the last to go. So by the time they don’t know who their spouse is they are pretty far gone and not likely to remember new acquaintances in a nursing home while also forgetting a spouse. Remember in “First 50 dates” how Adam Sandller had to start over each day. So I find the whole scenario unlikely as written or in any case the relationship with this new person would be quite different from what most people view as a “love relationship” due to the illness. So this is tacky and misleading journalism IMO.


16 posted on 11/13/2007 4:57:46 PM PST by plain talk
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To: Jedidah
Often this manifests itself in anger, contrariness, disruptive and even mean behavior.

Interesting. I visited an automobile museum this past Saturday. It was a very small museum with some beautifully restored Lincolns from the early 1930s. There was one elderly fellow there, serving as a volunteer guide. The first time I bumped into him he got very angry because he thought I had not bought a ticket. Of course I had, and I showed it him. He cooled down and walked away. I was surprised because the level of anger was inappropriate to the circumstance. I saw him a few minutes later and it was as if we were meeting for the first time. But my ticket was readily visible and he did not become angry. Then he escorted me around the cars, starting with a 1901 Buick. When we completed the tour, he started all over again with the 1901 Buick as if I were a new visitor.

I gently extricated myself.

It is clear to me now that he was suffering from some dementia, and that would explain his behavior. God bless him.

17 posted on 11/13/2007 5:11:42 PM PST by JCEccles
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To: pfsmd

This is a terribly sad situation. My father-in-law developed vascular dementia, which may have been mixed with Alzheimer’s. These diagnoses aren’t always precise, we learned. In any case, dementia steals a great deal of happiness from patients and their families. While I can certainly see how this new relationship might develop when an Alzheimer’s patient becomes progressively more confused and lost, its disclosure to the media troubles me. People in this condition have very little privacy or dignity left. If this were one of my loved ones, I surely wouldn’t trumpet it to the world.


18 posted on 11/13/2007 5:15:04 PM PST by Think free or die
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To: pfsmd

This moron was on the Supreme Court..........


19 posted on 11/13/2007 5:18:02 PM PST by Psycho_Bunny (Islam: Imagine a clown car......with guns.)
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To: Gay State Conservative

He is like a child now, obviously. It is his wife’s duty to protect his dignity - she’s breaking her vows. Funny how it conveniently happens that he does the actions so she feels off the hook. It is despicable.

I’m sure his worst nightmare as he got this illness was that he would act foolishly - his nightmare has come true with the assistance of his horrible family.


20 posted on 11/13/2007 5:33:48 PM PST by donna (Obama is a Moslem.)
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To: Lokibob
I do not understand, you feel this way and are apparently disturbed by it; but then republish it on FR.

Part of discussing things like this is to bring the actual sace to the table, so that everyone can see what all the fuss is about.

Please illustrate for all of us readers how YOU would illustrate this story in a way that is a dramatic as the real story is.

21 posted on 11/13/2007 7:46:43 PM PST by Balding_Eagle (If America falls, darkness will cover the face of the earth for a thousand years.)
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