When Stars Begin to Fade

Before there was such a thing as “American Idol,” we all grew up swooning over one or another of the dreamy teen idols of our day. Frank Sinatra. Elvis. The Beatles. They were golden in our eyes, infallible and unshakeable. Whatever else was going wrong in our hormone-induced, drama-filled teenage worlds, these stars could transport us magically to another state of being, as we imagined our lives somehow intertwined with their oh-so-perfect ones.

Little did we know at the time that under that façade of perfection lay the same hidden fears and failures we ourselves were experiencing. But growing older has a fascinating way of peeling away the layers of fantasy and revealing a sometimes harsh reality. We can now look back through a more mature lens and clearly see the alcoholism, drug addictions, depression and despair in our former heroes.

And we also discover that these superstars are no more immune to diseases, chronic conditions, and death than we ordinary folks are. The latest reality check came recently as David Cassidy announced his diagnosis of dementia. The Partridge Family icon who sent girls in the 60s and 70s into screaming frenzies and fainting spells – now beginning a journey into dementia? Sobering.

Watching an icon like David Cassidy figuratively step off the stage and onto the rocky path of dementia shared by so many common, everyday people – 47.5 million of them worldwide, in fact – quiets something within us. It reminds us yet again of the brevity of life, the importance of embracing the everyday, the connection we have to each other, regardless of how different our lives up to this point have appeared.

Those of us in the aging care industry know all too well what the journey through dementia can look like. But thankfully, we also know the small but significant joys to be realized along the way, as life becomes simplified and what’s most important rises to the surface. As David Cassidy leaves his life of touring to concentrate on his own personal objectives, perhaps it’s not so startling after all, and something we’d do well to emulate in our own lives. Whatever your current circumstances, let’s “Come on, get happy,” and focus our energy on the lasting legacy we can leave with our loved ones.