Endnotes: An Intimate Look at the End of Life

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Columbia University Press, Jun 19, 2012 - Social Science - 208 pages
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In the summer of 1996, Ruth Ray, a gerontologist in her forties, befriended an eighty-two-year-old man suffering from Parkinson's. The two remained close until the end of his life, sharing stories and memories while building a deep relationship. Part memoir, part biography, Endnotes explores how people construct meaning through their interactions with others. With grace and wit, Ray situates her friend's past experiences and present relationships within the theories and literature of gerontology, providing a deeper understanding of autonomy at the end of life. She also delves into the complexities of sexuality and intimacy in old age, communication across disabilities and age groups, the disabling nature of nursing homes, and the trials of death and dying. Writing as both a woman and a gerontologist, Ray finds that the "quality of care" we provide for others requires not only an understanding of the relationships that have given a person's life meaning but also a willingness to accept and share deeply in the emotional process of physical and mental decline.
 

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Contents

1 Passionater Scholarship
1
2 Home
14
3 Making Ourselves Understood
34
4 New Years Eve
56
5 A Lamentable Situation
72
6 Those Little Ordinary Things
84
7 Passions Progress
102
8 Activities
113
9 Diaper Is a Dirty Word
122
10 Care Conference
130
11 EMPTY ROOMS
138
12 Ethics of Care
154
Epilogue
171
Acknowledgements
175
Notes
177
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About the author (2012)

Ruth E. Ray teaches writing, composition theory, and women's studies at Wayne State University. She serves on the board of trustees of the Luella Hannan Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization that operates a Center for Creative Aging, and she is co-founder of communityengagement@wayne.edu, which supports community-based research and teaching, including projects on creative aging and intergenerational learning. She is the author of Beyond Nostalgia: Aging and Life-Story Writing and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Aging Studies.

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