My husband shared a beautiful idea with me at dinner today. Its source is Brachot 8b.
והזהרו בזקן ששכח תלמודו מחמת אונסו דאמרינן לוחות ושברי לוחות מונחות בארון
Be careful to respect an old man who has forgotten his learning through no fault of his own [due to old age] for it was said: Both the whole Tablets (Luchot) and the Broken Tablet were stored in the Aron.
I found this idea to be extremely compelling. I thought it was beautiful in that it teaches the value of respect, and especially respect for knowledge, learning and effort, through the use of such beautiful imagery. I now see in my mind's eye the mingled fragments of the Luchot next to the whole ones, each one important and beloved by God in its own right.
Heshy says that he has actually witnessed this in his community. An elderly man who might be suffering from Alzheimers or dementia or some other illness that takes the mind on a journey to a dark place will still be honored and respected through the day he is buried.