Thursday, August 27, 2015
This week we saw the film Mr. Holmes starring the remarkable Ian McKellen as the infamous detective with almost preternatural deductive powers. Except that in this story Holmes is aged, and his memory is failing. He makes a wry joke about senility at one point, but his dementia isn't funny. The film is quite good, in no small part because of the fine cast. Milo Parker plays the son of Holmes' housekeeper and is the elderly man's protégé, and caregiver in certain respects. McKellen's face is so able to express the range of emotions related to his loss of memory.
After decades of an upward trajectory for dementia and Alzheimer's there are new studies suggesting that dementia is now on the decline. http://www.irishtimes.com/news/science/dementia-rates-lower-than-feared-in-europe-research-shows-1.2323425 While this is encouraging, we are all aware of someone in our circle of care who suffers from dementia, and in so many congregations there are once vibrant and active members who are now in the shadows of memory loss from different causes. From my experience the most heart-wrenching situations are those where the sufferer is aware of decline, and is living through the grief of their cognitive decline. While science is making strides for treatment, there are still so many situations where pastoral care, spiritual care, is essential for those living with the disease and those supporting them.
The film is well done and worthwhile and invites us to ponder the realities of dementia for so many, including those with remarkable minds.