Category Archives: Aging

A Few Days or The Rest of My Life

Early in the year for a few days following my accident I didn’t know who anyone was or indeed who or where I was.  Quite frightening but fortunately for me it lasted a very short time.  But what of those suffering from say Alzheimer’s?  I’ve written several posts on this subject and for that very short time I could totally bond with my fictional character Jane:

My Name is Jane, I think.

They’re calling me Jane
Is that who I am
I am perfectly sane
but I don’t know their plan.

I look in the mirror and what do I see
Someone who vaguely resembles me
But why am I here and why all the tears
They are beginning to scare me, what is there to fear?

 It seems like only yesterday I knew who I was and
Proud, strong and upright my life in my hands.
But now you tell me that isn’t so
Well if I am not me then where did I go?

 I remember a time when my children were small
But yesterday and last week I know not at all
Where did those days go and why am I here
I wish you could tell me why did they disappear?

This young woman calls me Mother but I don’t know her at all
She looks kind of familiar, lovely smile, soft hands and all
And the young boys with her they are calling me Gran
But again I don’t know them why are they taking my hand?

Perhaps I knew her when I too was young
When life was before me and everything was fun
And losing one’s self wasn’t even thought of then
So how could I have landed here – is this the end?

 I think I know you – are you a nurse
And where are you taking me, I know the way
Well I did before this curse
Came upon me and befuddled my mind
And now I feel that I have left me behind.

But I am still me though I can’t make you hear
I’m still your mother and hold you all dear
What’s that you say my name is Jane
And I really feel that I’m perfectly sane.

But they’re calling me Jane
Are they talking to me
Is that my name and
Who I used to be?

 If you are interested, those related posts are :

My Name is Jane
My Name is Jane – 2
Tea Drinkers Unite

Adventure

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My Name is Jane

I read this post today from Marylin at Things I want to tell my mother and I thought of the years when my mother suffered fro Alzheimer’s. This is a non selective disease. It seems that anyone can get it and frankly it frightens me as I think it might be hereditary.

I have written a couple of posts on this subject, most recently Tea Drinkers Unite in response to a 100 Word Challenge set by Velvet Verbosity.

I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

As one gets older one is concerned about health issues but for me it is mental issues that worry me most.  My mother suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease during the latter years of her life and I wonder if it is inherited and passed down to the children.

Definition of Alzheimer’s – Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive, degenerative disorder that attacks the brain’s nerve cells, or neurons, resulting in loss of memory, thinking and language skills, and behavioral changes.

I recently read this blog from Nancy at Spirit Lights the Way and began to think what it must be like to be in a situation where you really don’t remember or know who or where you are.  This is my attempt to put it into words:

My Name is Jane, I think.

They’re calling me Jane
Is that who I am
I am perfectly sane
but I don’t know their…

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Writing 101: Dark Clouds on the (Virtual) Horizon

Still playing catch up.  Here’s Day 12’s challenge

Write a post inspired by a real-world conversation.

We don’t write in a bubble — we write in the world, and what we say is influenced by our experiences. Today, take a cue from something you’ve overheard and write a post inspired by a real-life conversation. Revisit a time when you wish you’d spoken up, reminisce about an important conversation that will always stick with you, or tune in to a conversation happening around you right now and write your reaction. Take time to listen — to what you hear around you, or what your memories stir up.

I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.

– Ernest Hemingway

Today’s twist: include an element of foreshadowing in the beginning of your post.”

So here goes.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday had all been perfect spring days.  Sunny and warm the house was opened to the outside and our visitors and workmen were passing in and out of the garden easily.  Several seating and eating areas had been set up and we used one of these eating areas for lunch.

Sunday was the day on which we were giving my partner’s father in law a party for his 99th birthday.

Rain on leavesSunday brought the gale force winds and heavy rain as promised by the forecasters.   I have always lived in a cloud of sunshine, expecting only the best so I really didn’t believe the forecasts.  But woe is me, we had 24 invited guests coming at mid-day and they were all now having to mingle, chat, laugh and eat lunch inside.

A few of the guests arrived early and several were working away in our kitchen helping.  One glazed the ham, another made a salad and another put out plates and cutlery for the lunch.  I directed the help particularly as this is a new house, new kitchen and I was the only one who knew where anything was.

All went well.  The very wet guests arrived as did the guest of honour looking very dapper in his suit, tie and hat to ward off the rain.  He has three carers, ladies who come in and make sure he is OK and they all arrived shortly after he did.  He was given a glass of wine and ushered to his seat where all and sundry came up to him to congratulate him.  He was loving being the centre of attention.

The conversation ranged around many subjects and the guests mingled among each other as any well behaved, well schooled guests will.

I came upon two elderly gentlemen speaking, one with a marked Scottish accent “Well, how many more of these will we be going to do you think Rob” asked one man while the Scotsman replied “I really like going out to Sunday lunch, Bill. It means that Meg doesn’t have to cook”. “Well it can’t go on much longer. We are all getting older” said the first. “What will you have from the buffet?” asked the Scotsman. “I think I might be the first to go. After all I am nearing 90 and not in great health” said the other.

These two continued conversing, neither hearing what the other said and continuing in a conversation that only he could hear asking questions nobody would answer. Is this where we are all heading, I wondered.

Then I looked up and saw the two elderly gents at the buffet table each in earnest conversation with another person. I wonder what they were talking about.

Note – I found this challenge particularly difficult and had several attempts at writing it.  I still don’t know if what I have written meets this challenge.

Writing 101 – Death to Adverbs

It’s now Thursday Day 9 of the challenge but first I must write Day 8.  This is a day late because of an emergency yesterday that didn’t allow me to post a blog.

So Day 8 and the challenge is:

Go to a local café, park, or public place and report on what you see. Get detailed: leave no nuance behind.

Thoughtful writers create meaning by choosing precise words to create vivid pictures in the reader’s mind. As you strive to create strong imagery, show your readers what’s going on; avoid telling them.

Today’s twist: write an adverb-free post. If you’d rather not write a new post, revisit and edit a previous one: excise your adverbs and replace them with strong, precise verbs.

My partner has been having trouble seeing clearly.  He has complained about a shield coming down and almost covering his eye, therefore making reading very difficult.  So an appointment was made for the optometrist.

I dropped him off at the appointed time and then took a leisurely stroll around the city shops.  I had only 30 minutes to spare so this necessitated restricting my visit to two shops.

Kirks doorman

photo – wellingtonnz.com

The first shop was the top department store in the country.  When one enters through the front doors (opened I might add by a gentleman in a top hat and dark uniform coat) one is immediately assailed by the heady mix of perfumes, quietly playing music and beautiful (mainly) young things telling us of the wonders of their particular product.  “Would madam like to try this new perfume?”  Hence the many smells lingering in the air or “Would madam have time for a mini facial today?” or “Would madam care to try this new cream that will perform miracles for her skin?” and on and on.

Here we meet the stay at home Mums and wives with time on their hands willing and happy to spend a few hours browsing around the store.  Of course, during the browsing many do buy one or two or even more products.

A quick walk through the ladies wear department where the salesladies are all smiles while busily adjusting the racks of clothes and returning those that have been tried on and discarded to their rightful place.  Then shoes where the sales assistants have more time to chat and some even know my name.

Then having bought nothing, out the door, across the main street – busy with cars and buses, bikes and motorbikes – to another department store immediately opposite the first.

This is a middle of the road department store.  There’s a more hurried pace here.  Businesswomen and some men of course, on a lunch break with only 1 hour to eat and do any shopping they need.  Not for them the leisurely browsing through racks of clothes or stands of make up products or stacks of handbags and shoes.  They mostly know what they are looking for and in the limited amount of time they have they intend to find it.

While the perfume and make up counters are also sited at the front of the store, there doesn’t seem to be quite the need to assail one with products perfumes, make up etc.

I love the first store now that I am retired and can spend time seeking out a perfect product, a gift for a friend or something for me, but I understand the attraction of the second store to those people with limited time to spend shopping.

And the emergency that made it impossible to write a post yesterday?  We left the optometrists after an hour long appointment and had decided that we would now go on to pick up some picture framing, when the phone went asking my partner to go immediately to the surgeons for another consultation.

We went into a very busy waiting room.  We walked in and my partner gave his name – they were expecting him but we were told to take a seat. I looked around the waiting room which, apart from the phones ringing and the staff talking as they made decisions and small talk, was subdued. Here was a man in a motorised wheelchair talking on the phone, making arrangements to be picked up, a tearful woman just emerging from the examination room to speak with her friend/husband/partner.  Another couple were discussing an article in a magazine, yet another woman was paying the bill.  But it was a totally different atmosphere to either of the stores in which I had been earlier.

Eventually my partner was called and at the end of another hour was told that he would need an operation to rectify the problem. So what started out to be just another day in Paradise turned into a stressful day for him

Please note – I really don’t know if I have written an adverb free post and would appreciate any comments on this.

The World Is Going To End

The house had been sold in record time and arrangements for her to move into the retirement facility had been accomplished without any hitch.

But now, sitting in her packed up house, Elizabeth thought “The world is going to end in three days time.”  Or at least the world as she had known it up to now.

She had moved into this house as a young bride 45 years ago and now she was to leave it behind.  She would be leaving many memories both happy and sad.  Memories of days when her children were young, the accidental death of her son and the wedding of her daughter.  These memories were shared with Charles, her beloved.  But after Charles died, life did begin to be lonely.  Her daughter had her own family to take up her time.  Her friends were moving away and the house and garden were beginning to be too large for her to manage on her own.

Reluctantly she had agreed to her daughter’s suggestion that they look at what retirement villages had to offer and which if any might suit her.  There followed weeks of looking at places that if one believed their brochures, were absolutely perfect for her, but mostly they didn’t live up to her expectations. She had almost given up hope of finding the right place.

And then one day, while at the supermarket, she met an old acquaintance.  After they loaded their shopping into their cars they went off for a coffee and a catch up.

Over coffee, Rex told her that he had recently moved into a splendid retirement village.  He had his own small house; there were plenty of leisure facilities and people of his own age  with whom to spend some cheerful time.  In return Elizabeth told him of her search for a place in which to live.  He had piqued her interest and they parted agreeing to keep in touch…..

___________________________

Trifecta tricycle

This is my entry in this week’s Trifecta Challenge. It follows on Fireworks an earlier entry in the Challenge.

“For the weekend challenge, we’re playing the ambiguity card again and leaving interpretation up to you.  Give us 33-333 words with this as your inspiration:

The world will end in three days.

If you want to join in, click on the tricycle above and you will be taken to Trifecta’s blog that contains all the instructions.  Do have a go.  I promise you it is fun.

A Very Strange Old Lady

I have warned you in the past how I shall be when I am old.

“I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.”

I will most definitely be outrageous, difficult and undignified but not until I am old.

Cross Old Woman

Imagine my surprise therefore, when I looked in the mirror and saw this Old Woman looking out at me.   I just had to share this other poem with you.  I don’t know who wrote it or where it’s from but it just says how I felt earlier today.

A very weird thing has happened.
I have no idea who she is, where she came from, or how she got in.
I certainly didn’t invite her.
All I know is that one day she wasn’t here and the next day she was.
She’s very clever. She manages to keep out of sight for the most part;
but whenever I pass a mirror, I catch a glimpse of her there;
and when I look into a mirror directly to check
my appearance, suddenly she’s hogging the whole thing,
completely obliterating my gorgeous face and body.
It’s very disconcerting.
I’ve tried screaming at her to leave but she just screams back, grimacing horribly.
She’s really rather frightening.
If she’s going to hang around, the least she could do is offer to pay rent.
But no. Every once in a while I do find a couple of dollar bills on the kitchen counter,
or some loose change on my bureau or on the floor, but that certainly isn’t enough.

In fact, though I don’t like to jump to conclusions, I think she steals
money from me regularly. I go to the ATM and withdraw a hundred dollars, and a few days later, it’s gone.
I certainly don’t go through it that fast, so I can only conclude that the old lady pilfers it.

old woman

You’d think she’d spend some of it on wrinkle cream.
God knows, she needs it.
And the money isn’t the only thing she’s taking.
Food seems to disappear at an alarming rate.
Especially the good stuff–ice cream, cookies, candy–
I just can’t keep them in the house. She really has a sweet tooth.

She should watch it; she’s really putting on the pounds.
I think she realizes that, and to make herself feel better,
I know she is tampering with my scale so I’ll think that I’m gaining weight, too.
For an old lady, she’s really quite childish.
She also gets into my closets when I’m not home and alters all my clothes. They’re getting tighter and
tighter every day.

Another thing:
I wish she’d stop messing with my files and the papers on my desk. I can’t find a thing any more. This is particularly hard to deal with because I’m extremely neat and organized;
but she manages to jumble everything up so nothing is where it’s supposed to be.

Furthermore, when I program my VCR to tape something important, she fiddles with it after I leave the room so it records  the wrong channel or shuts off completely.
She finds innumerable, imaginative ways to irritate me.
She gets to my newspapers, magazines, and mail before me– and blurs all the print;
and she’s done something sinister with the volume controls on my TV, radio, and phone. Now all I hear are mumbles and whispers.

She’s also made my stairs steeper, my vacuum cleaner heavier, all my knobs and faucets hard to turn
and my bed higher and it’s a real challenge to climb into and out of.
Furthermore, she gets to my groceries as soon as I shelve them and applies super glue to the tops of every jar and bottle so they’re just about impossible to open.
Is this any way to repay my hospitality?

I don’t even get any respite at night. More than once,
her snoring has awakened me.
I don’t know why she can’t do something about that. It’s very unattractive.

As if all this isn’t bad enough, she is no longer confining her malevolence to the house. She’s now found a way to sneak into my car with me and follows me wherever I go.
I see her reflection in store windows as I pass. and she’s taken all the fun out of clothes shopping, because her penchant for monopolizing mirrors has extended to dressing rooms.
When I try something on, she dons and identical outfit- which looks ridiculous on her– and then stands directly in front of me so I can’t see how great it looks on me!

I thought she couldn’t get any meaner than that, but yesterday she proved me wrong. She had the nerve to come with me when I went to have some passport pictures taken, and actually stepped in front of the camera just as the shutter clicked.
Disaster! I have never seen such a horrible picture.
How can I go abroad now? No customs official is ever going to believe that crone scowling from my passport is me.

She’s walking on very thin ice.
If she keeps this up, I swear, I’ll put her in a home.
On second thought, I shouldn’t be too hasty.
First, I think I’ll check with the IRS and see if
I can claim her as a dependent.

Granny on computer

(sigh….. bet that strange old lady is on “her” puter too!) What’s a body to do??????

Goodbye Charlie and Hello ?

For years we have been reading about robots that can take over many of the menial household and other chores.  I read these reports with a certain scepticism and a “Will it ever happen in my lifetime” question.

Robotic vacuum cleaners have been around for some time but I don’t know anybody who has used one.

Charlie the robot

Charlie

Well now enter Charlie.  Here in Auckland, a robot named has been ’employed’ as an aged care worker in a rest home.  Charlie is a health care robot and has been working in the village for the past couple of years.

He is designed to do simple tasks such as taking vital signs, reminding patients to take medication  leaving nurses free to focus on more personal care. Work is also being done on applications that will allow Charlie to detect when a patient has fallen or wandered off.  We are also told that Charlie can even chat with the residents albeit simply.

This is part of a three-year study conducted by the University of Auckland exploring seniors’ attitudes toward robots.   Residents of Selwyn Village their families and staff  were interviewed to determine their views on which tasks health care robots could perform and what the mechanical helpers should look like. So Charlie was “born”.   Weighing in at 45 kgs/99 lbs he has a humanoid name but a 26 cm/10.4 inch touch screen instead of a face.

Charlie has now left the village but in his place some 30 robots – in five different shapes and sizes – are being introduced to Selwyn. At this point of their evolution, the Selwyn robots can not only help provide healthcare but also enable Skype voice and video calls over the internet (numbers can be pre-entered and the connection made with one touch of a button). Some have additional brain-fitness programs to help the user’s memory, as well as entertainment in the form of music videos, photographs and games. Patients booked to see the doctor or nurse at Selwyn can interact with the medical centre’s on-site robot before their consultation.

Tubby Robot

"Tubby" - photo David White NZ Listener

One enthusiastic resident has named his robot “Tubby” which was apparently what he was called when he was younger.   And Tubby, as it happens, is rotund, standing about as tall as a domestic vacuum cleaner.

We have all heard and probably used the expression”the inmates are taking over the asylum” well now we can say with some truth “the robots are taking over the village”.