So far my family and friends have been lucky, but my nursing home stint saw the devastation first hand. What a mean spirited disease, stealing your loved one twice. The theft of the mind, and then the physical body.
We used to call the patients hall dusters in the home. Drifters going up and down the halls running their hand across the railing or wall. Back and forth, all day long, no idea they are even on the planet or at least that's how it seems to the observer...who knows what is really going on in the depth of the mind. The sadness that impacted me is something I will never forget. I hope my loved ones and dear friends never have to experience this devastation first or second hand. I can’t imagine being diagnosed and handed down that kind of death sentence. Knowing I will loose all comprehension, being a stranger to my son and husband is sad beyond words, but ironically...it might be easier than watching it happen to either of them. As in the little picture above, being able to forget might be a blessing as this disease slowly engulfs your memories, it's your loved ones that will have to learn to carry on with the shell that remains.
About a month ago, an old school chum dropped by with her mother. I was taken by how childlike the mother was, sitting on the trunk playing with my dogs. She seemed to remember me, looked around and said........"I walk by here everyday but never knew you had this store." My heart sank, for she had been in the shop several times and bought a piece of my jewellery. Out of ear shot, my friend told me that her mother was suffering from dementia. So sad. But, I was taken by her jovial, almost giddy personality. I'm not familiar with this stage of dementia. Most of the people in the nursing home were beyond this and some were quite depressed needing medication to quiet the anger. My heart bled for my friend as her journey will be long on a very rough road.
The other evening we were watching a show on PBS and they were talking about who will and who won’t contract this illness. They talked about social circles, the wider it expands the less chance of becoming ill. If you stay at home and wander out infrequently, not much farther than for provision shopping, it's a precursor to Alzheimer's. If you work and your social circle encompasses the job place and friends from that, then the chances decrease slightly. Exercise is also a factor in the longevity of neuroplasticity. The more you do and the larger your social circle the less likely you will succumb to dementia.
I’m one of those people who love to be in their home and although I go out to work I don’t venture much farther than that. I exercise my jaw more than my body and have a limited circle of good friends. If all these factors are true, I’m the poster child for the disease. The mileage on our car annually is around 8000 km, the average person puts on 20,000 so that tells you I don't go very far...mostly to the airport to pick up or deliver hubby. Being told your social circle influences the chance of getting Alzheimer’s wasn’t the kind of news I wanted to hear and I turned to hubby and spouted…."Oh my god…..I’m going to die of Alzheimer's!"
Apparently the more your brain is stimulated with relationships and adventures the more likely you are to escape the grips of memory loss. They did go on to say that creativity improves your chances so that might balance out my love of home mentality so I'll come out in a better place, otherwise I’m screwed. People who travel do well, experience the world and all its wonder. People with a large social circle, having a lot of friends and are active within groups do well so rug hooking can help keep our mind muscles flexing.
Now I know this isn’t carved in stone, just statistically we appear to fit into a certain mold and it was scary to hear. Whatever happened to the aluminum cause?...that was easy to avoid...I can't avoid my home, nor do I want too. So I felt inclined to spread awareness and say, get out of your homes people, go to parties, exercise, have fun, take up rug hooking or bingo or maybe line dancing, whatever it takes to get you out and active to stimulate body and brain to optimum health......apparently it's use it or loose it!
I suppose now I’ll have to make an effort to friend up a few more people and up my chances of keeping the grey cells intact. Guess I shouldn’t have turned down that dinner invite for Friday evening because during Chester Race week all the sailors and wives gather to break bread and catch up on news. I’m just tired this week and figured by Friday I’d be zonked so I begged off but if it will save my brain, maybe I should go…….