Constantly Fighting Dementia’s Effects
It seems like forever since I last wrote! Just the smallest change can upset my day, my schedule. In this case, it has been a change in ouralzheimers.com's personnel. It really didn't affect me except that I will have someone new to whom to send my blog. To the normal person, this would be no big deal, but to the person with dementia (like myself), even such a small change seems insurmountable at first. It has taken me a couple of weeks just to come to grips with this change. I had grown familiar and comfortable with Sophia, my editor (I think that was her title...can't keep that straight either). Now, I must face the change.
Having dementia, and being cognitive of it and the changes it brings, is an eye-opening experience. I have not advanced to the stage-and hope I never do-where I have no idea what is going on; however, sometimes I think that being in such a diminished state may be kinder in some ways. Having the personality I do, I am forever evaluating myself, my abilities, my behaviors, etc. It saddens me to see my memory slipping slowly. Granted, some of this has much to do with the general aging process. I still don't have to like it. What I do about it is what is important for me...for you, too!
As we age, we need to stay active and positive: mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually. It may sound silly that I have included all four points but bear with me, and I will explain.
It is hard to become mentally stagnant in a work environment. Even in blue collar jobs like construction, you have to be alert just for your own safety. Waiters must keep table orders straight. Daycare workers must watch carefully their charges and constantly be working to keep them busy. Secretaries must keep lists in their heads and multitask. Other types of workers have minds which are always working. However, once retired, one's life quickly changes. There are still household chores to be done and bills to be paid and groceries to be bought...but what else is there? That depends upon the person. If you are in this position-wondering what to do-start slowly. Find something you would like to learn that you never had time to do. Go to the community college. Give back to the community; find somewhere to give volunteer time. You will feel so much better about your "free" time and develop new friendships, as well!
Emotions can be quite exhilarating-or debilitating. Take your pick. I choose to live with the former choice. I choose to look at the glass half full. I choose to start each day with a "What can I get into today?" attitude. I can't make everyone like me. I won't look like a movie star (as a matter of fact, I'm often overlooked by society due to being overweight). Who cares? I have had to learn to love ME; it's important that you do the same. Do I take myself seriously? Of course. I could get real depressed over my vascular dementia...but I choose not to. I choose to face it down! Do I ever get the blues? If you are a regular reader, you know I do-but not for long! I choose to look at life at another angle!
Almost every one of us is physically feeble, if we are to believe what we hear and see on TV. Experts say we need to exercise three to five times a week for thirty minutes, more or less depending to whom you listen. I can't tell you to do as I do, because this is one area in which I am most needy myself. However, I am constantly TRYING to exercise. I am walking more. All you can do is the best you can. Again, start small. Exercise will improve your attitude and look on life (in between the pings of muscle pains...).
Speaking about spiritual matters may be a slippery slope for some. I live a God-driven life, so I can only speak from my own point of view. To speak in more general terms, I will have to open up the matter of spiritual health to all who may read this. Let me just say that one must find a force much greater than ourselves to whom to look for help, guidance, and comfort. We must be able to find hope in our lives. And we must be able to look outside of ourselves to get it.
So, whether you have dementia or not, get moving mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Get the most out of your life!