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A Piece of My Mind
May 18, 2005

Saying Good-bye

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2005;293(19):2321-2322. doi:10.1001/jama.293.19.2321

It was a sweltering Phoenix Friday in early June, the type of day where you get hot, then sweaty, three steps outside your morning shower. I was making rounds for the last time at the Alzheimer Residence, where I had been caring for 15 residents since the beginning of my geriatrics fellowship one year ago. Walking in, had I allowed it, I could have gotten sentimental. Soon I would be leaving for a geriatrics job in Michigan, done with fellowship, ready to take my boards. In 11 short months, I had grown strangely affectionate toward, even growing to love, these 80- and 90-year-olds. None of them remembered me from month to month, and none would notice my absence, nor my sudden replacement with a “new fellow” come July 1. Alzheimer disease. It’s terrible, robbing people not only of their memories, but their personhood. Who they were. What they did. What made them laugh, cry. My Grandma walked this very same path, ten years ago. Maybe that’s why I found them all so easy to love.