There are many privileges to being a physician, and one is to be with people having moments of great poignancy. I have witnessed many moments of great embarrassment - not to the person behaving badly, but to their relatives. The relatives are embarrassed for themselves to some extent but also for the person - "The person who once was". This is the person who would never have belched in public, or sworn at the doctor, or told the lady in the waiting room that she was fat, or asked when the stripping would start. But as sad as it is, the intimacy entailed by retelling the incident - even after it has just happened and the embarrassment is still fresh and stinging - often results not just in laughter (and especially in that intense bonding between the participants). I'm no Pollyanna, but I do know that such an experience can be one of the positive aspects of caring for someone with Alzheimer's disease . I know too that I have an important role in giving people permission to laugh at what has happened, even when they still can be sad for the person they care for.