Since being diagnosed about five years ago with vascular dementia, I have strived to exercise my mind every day. I am writing this blog as part of that endeavor. I also plan and teach classes to fellow seniors entitled "Strengthening Your Mind". I volunteer with a community support group as their cashier at their flea markets. (Now, THAT is a challenge, a real challenge, for me!) I am Vice President on the board of Cooperative Ministry on Aging for our county, where my "expertise" is helping with grant writing and Telephone Reassurance. I have also spent a few years as a volunteer once a month at the Senior Center, helping people sign in for Social Security appointments and showing them where the waiting area is located...and answering their questions while they wait, or getting someone who knows far more than me to help with their inquiries. All of these activities have proven to be very beneficial in allowing me to keep as much of my cognitivity (is that a word) as I have. However, there is something else...
Sitting at the Easter dinner table, my husband and I were talking with my brother-in-law, Don, when Don said, "You are probably doing the best thing you can for your memory right now!" I said, "What? Eating?" (I am so literal anymore...) "No," he said. "Renovating your house! You're learning all those new skills."
I hadn't thought of that! I have learned to use a Dremel, which I love, love, love. I have enjoyed learning to use big electrical things like a Chop Saw and a Circular Saw. I used a Reciprocating Saw to cut the studs during demolition. I've used a chisel, hammer, and sledge hammer to knock down a fireplace. I have built frames and stained them. I have watched my husband twisting electrical wires in outlets so much that I could...well, probably not...do it by myself. I used an electrical probe to check to see if the power was turned off. I learned to cut and put up wallboard. I learned to make the cuts in the wallboard for the lights, etc. I used my mind to plan out the logistics of the projects. I've drawn my own version of blueprints, using exact measurement and grid paper. I've designed the interior of our double closet and linen closet. I've used a screw gun-which I'm NOT so good with!
My husband had to help me with the list above. Even though I can't remember it all, that doesn't take away from the fact that I had to have formed new synapses-or connections-within my brain as I completed these new activities. Doing these renovations has been both exhilarating and exhausting. You can bet that I get a full night's sleep every night! No more staying up half the night!
My recommendation to you is to try something new. Take a class. Join a gym. Learn a new game. Have you tried Mahjong? Build a birdhouse from a kit and paint or stain it. Get out of your rut-it will do your brain good!!!
Published On: April 27, 2011