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Revista médica de Chile

versão impressa ISSN 0034-9887


DORR ZEGERS, Otto. Phenomenological and ethical aspects of aging and dementia. Rev. méd. Chile [online]. 2005, vol.133, n.1, pp.113-120. ISSN 0034-9887.

Aging is a difficult stage in human life, due to the limitations it imposes and the nearness to death. Modern society tends to be prejudiced against oldness. When dementia is also present, prejudices can be transformed into rejection. The aim of this author tries to devise a phenomenological description of oldness and points out its potentially positive aspects. Following Scheller's classification of dementias (1965), this author tries to determine the common elements of their different forms, using the phenomenological method, which can be applied either to one or to many cases of aging or dementia, not being the number of observations the fundament of the study, as in the case of empirical sciences. Three essential features characterize the spatiality of aging: distance, reduction of mobility and coexistence of the essential and the tangential; temporality is characterized by slowing, coexistence of essential and trivial elements and predominance of present over future and past. In the case of dementias, all characteristics attributed to senescence are exaggerated and/or deformed, for example, «distance» is transformed into indifference or «slowing» becomes a paralysis of temporal development. Now, regarding the main forms of dementia, this author sees their common feature in the loss of the Ego's ability to rise above the immediate situation, to be able to reflect on the environment and on him or herself. This wide vision both of aging and of the dementia process enables the author to identify the prejudices weighing over old age that must be overcome, as well as the reasons to respect and take care of the elderly when they are caught in a process of deterioration (Rev Méd Chile 2005; 133: 113-20)

Palavras-chave : Aging; Dementia; Ethics, medical.

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