Turning 60 - It's My Birthday Tomorrow

Leah Health Guide
  • Happy birthday to me on July 1st!  I am entering a whole new decade, and I'm darned proud of it!  Except for this crummy dementia and the trials my family has been going through, I must say that each decade just gets better for me.  Perhaps the dementia and medications I take help to take the edge off of the more stressful parts of my life. 


    When I was a youngster, someone sixty years old was O-L-D !  Now that I am THERE, sixty isn't so bad.  Most of the lessons life will throw at me have been thrown.  I am now cruisin' down the highway of life.  I have a greater appreciation of what each day offers. Those younger people, who are still in the throes of struggling with every day's zingers, usually don't have the time or patience to fully appreciate life's pleasures.  At this time in my life, I have the time to do whatever interests me whenever I want...what a gift!  I have the time to give back to the community through volunteering.  (It's sad to me when I hear people say they won't work unless they are paid.)  I have the time and opportunity to meet and get to know new people, to share with them my time and talents.  I don't have to make lesson plans anymore just to go to a doctor.  I can go to lunch whenever I want, something never possible during the 34 years I taught.  My brothers, sister, and I are all retired and can find time to fish and crab together...or play cards...or bake cookies...or share a cup of coffee and laugh over old times.

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    Now that the pollyanna part of me has finished expounding the finer points of being sixty years of age, I can let you know how I am doing with my dementia.  My internist told me  that he is sure my dementia is from the mini-strokes.  And, he thinks that the problems I've been experiencing with my memory, leaving the car running, etc., are probably being encouraged by the stresses I've been encountering.  He has, though, ordered a bunch of blood work to be done to see if anything else is contributing to it and to my high blood sugar levels.  Somehow, I have managed to lose 4 pounds...my husband laughingly said it was spending last week with an anorexic diet (one must keep a sense of humor-even if it seems a bit "sick"-in order to put such problems in their proper place!).  In agreement with my neurologist, my internist doesn't want to change any medications until we get the blood work results. 


    Today, both my brother and my nephew called me to remind me to take my injection and to eat.  I had already eaten and done all my meds by the time they called at breakfast.  However, I was taken by surprise when my nephew called at lunch because I hadn't an inkling that I needed to eat or take my insulin...that's the dementia interfering with my health.  I am hoping to find something-some kind of alarm-which would help remind me to eat and take meds at the morning and afternoon meals.  If anyone has helpful suggestions, I would appreciate it!


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    Over the weekend, I experienced more of those "holes" while talking with friends.  I was telling them of our adventures in Belize when I couldn't remember the name of the vessel that takes one from the ship to shore...I said it was a guerny and was corrected with the word TENDER.  So, I continued my story inserting the word TENDER in the sentence.  It wasn't a few seconds later that I needed to use the same word-and couldn't remember it!  That is what can happen with short term memory loss.  You use a word one moment and can't remember it the next!  Luckily, my friends either fill in the word or let me give clues to it...we laugh...make jokes about it...and that's okay.  I am among friends.  No one is out to hurt me.  Making light of my losses help put them in the very place they need to be...unimportant!


    Dementia, though, is not a laughing matter.  And, I know that there are those out there who are either further along than me or are caring for someone who is.  I would just like to recommend to use humor whenever possible.  By taking off the stigma, you lighten the load for the person with dementia.  By accepting those with dementia for who they are WHERE they are, you are supporting them.  You are not enabling them.  That should not be.  Being supportive and accepting allows the person with dementia to be the best he/she can be. 


    So, there it is...my sixty year old wisdom!  Guess I've earned the right...


    Happy 4th of July.  Happy birthday, America!



Published On: June 30, 2008