By: Stephanie Mencimer | Mother Jones
For more than a month, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has been on medical leave, with no indication of when she might return to her powerful seat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Having missed dozens of Senate votes, she’s facing calls to resign, as her inability to do her job is obstructing President Joe Biden’s judicial nominations, among other duties. It’s just the latest installment in the saga swirling around the 89-year-old, five-term senator whose cognitive decline has been on full public display for years, even as she has refused to step down. In April last year, the San Francisco Chronicle published a story raising concerns about her mental faculties and the refusal of people around her to make her retire.
The Feinstein saga is a very public example of innumerable private crises currently taking place in millions of American households. With their pathological obsession with personal freedom, Americans are both collectively and individually failing to address the growing problem of impaired elderly people. Consider how hard it is to take away someone’s driver’s license or move a senior who’s become a hoarder into a safer living situation. It’s only going to get worse. There are millions of baby boomers who are about to join Feinstein in the ranks of dementia patients. Already, an estimated 7 million people in the US are currently living with dementia—about 1 in 10 older Americans. By 2040, that figure is expected to nearly double, but as a country, and as individuals, we still have no fucking idea how to deal with this disease. So mostly we muddle through until there’s a crisis, or, in this case, Biden can’t get his judges confirmed.
THIS IS WHY WE NEED TERM LIMITS!— CappyinBoston03 (@RobertCap10) April 19, 2023
Stop reelecting 80, year Olds. Stop letting the ruling class hold power until they die. This isn't what Democracy was supposed to be. #Feinstein https://t.co/YbSfDHI1Wo
I read recently about a scandal in the UK where employees of the government’s dementia care agency were spending as little as three and a half minutes each visit with patients they visited at home. “Wow, they’re so lucky!” I thought. “They have a dementia care agency!” That’s three and a half minutes more attention than my 76-year-old mother has ever received from a government agency in the three years since she was first officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
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