Friday, 08 March 2013
When Elder Capabilities Wane
Recently, I was alerted to an episode of Monday Mornings, a new medical drama on the TNT television channel inspired by a novel from TV physician/reporter, Sanjay Gupta, who serves as executive producer of the series.
Although it appears (from my viewing of one episode) to be competently written, acted and produced, the show has gotten terrible reviews and may not last much longer. But that is neither here nor there today.
My interest concerns the latest episode titled, “The Legend and the Fall.” The story turns on a confrontation between Harding Hooten, the chief of surgery at fictional Chelsea General (played by Alfred Molina) and Arvin Wayne, the hospital's renowned brain surgeon (played by 88-year-old guest star Hal Holbrook).
Early in the episode, gloved and gowned Wayne walks into the wrong operating room on the wrong day expecting to lead a team doing a different kind of surgery than is scheduled.
This mistake and two others lead Wayne's colleagues to question the octogenarian's cognitive abilities and Hooten places Wayne in the hot seat during the weekly surgical review meeting. Here is a clip of that encounter:
I tried mightily to use the TNT embed code so you could watch the clip here, but unlike most other video sites, it will not play correctly. Please go watch it here or here and then come back for the rest of this post.
I love it when entertainment television takes a serious look at elder issues which this episode does.
What you don't learn from the clip is that Hooten is emotionally torn, loath to believe that the capabilities of his old friend and mentor are ebbing. On the other hand, Wayne's job is to wield sharp objects within the recesses of human brains so whatever Hooten's personal feelings, he must be objective.
Most of us are not brain surgeons but there are other skills that, if diminished, could harm others – driving being only the most obvious. We all know stories of the difficulties some adult children face when their aging parents become dangerous drivers but refuse to give up the keys.
You have heard it from me a zillion times – we age at dramatically different rates dependent on genes, health and dumb luck. Some people can lose cognitive ability at age 50; others continue to be competent at 90 and beyond. The difficulty – individually and as a society - is working out how to be fair to the fit and still keep people safe from those whose capabilities have declined.
That's what I like about such shows as “The Legend and the Fall” on Monday Mornings. They raise serious questions within the context of enjoyable entertainment while contributing to public awareness and conversation.
If you are interested, this episode is scheduled to be repeated on TNT on Saturday, March 9 at 12:30AM or you may be able to view it at the tntdrama website.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Dan Gogerty: Social Media - Thunder Road Style