Tag Archives: Alzheimer’s disease

My Name is Jane

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 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?
Judith Baxter Blogger, mother, grandmother and friend.
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Weddings and other foolish things

I dreamed of a wedding of elaborate elegance,
A church filled with family and friends.
I asked him what kind of a wedding he wished for,
He said one that would make me his wife.

~Author Unknown

For four years I acted as the Wedding Coordinator at Old St Pauls a local historic church.  The church had been built in 1866 and was superseded in the 1970s by the new Cathedral of St Paul nearby.

Old St Pauls

But the old church was never de-consecrated and it continues to be used for weddings, whether civil or religious.  Weddings for all faiths have been held and during my tenure, we had between 90 and 100 weddings each year.

One memorable year we had 101 weddings, 28 of which were held in March.  On the 31st of the month, having coordinated 4 weddings and a rehearsal, I went home and dropped into a chair with a glass of wine.  I switched on the TV and horror of horrors the movie being played was ‘Four weddings and a Funeral”.

Of course, all brides are beautiful but I really think my own brides are just fabulous.

Bride

Daughter 1996

Our daughter, Cate was married on a glorious October day.  Early spring in New Zealand. The sun shone, the birds sang.  Proud father, mother and brother – what more could one ask?

Bride

Daughter in Law 1990

Our son and daughter-in-law Rose were married in March the beginning of autumn here in New Zealand. After days of pouring rain, the sun came out on this lovely bride, the sun shone, birds sang and both mother and father-in-law smiled on our new daughter.

But then I started thinking of other family weddings

Wedding photo

Our wedding 1957

We were married on a foggy, November Sunday afternoon in London in November in 1957.  At that time weddings were only ever performed in churches or other places of worship or Registry Offices and never on a Sunday.  Because of my Mother’s upbringing in the Jewish Faith, she wanted us to be married on Sunday and so we had to obtain the permission of the Archbishop for this.  And as the  wedding had to be completed prior to sunset and before the evening service it was at 4.45pm.

Parents wedding

My Parents 1935

My parents were married in 1935 in London.  Sorry about the quality of the photo.  It’s the best we could do.

My Mother was so tiny and on one of my visits to her, when she was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s she told me she had a lovely dress upstairs that perhaps I would like.  I still have that beautifully hand-made silk dress.  She was so very tiny that none of us would ever have fitted into it.

Bob's Parents

Bob’s Parents

Bob’s parents were married in 1928 in Dunoon, Scotland but it was a short married life as she died some 4 years later.  She left a small son who was brought up by his two maiden aunts in the family home.

And here are a few true words from the late, great John Lennon, my favourite Beatle.

“We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant.You can’t just accept it and leave it in thecupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself.
You’ve got to keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.”
— John Lennon, musician, singer-songwriter 1940-1980

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chronology vs Biology

Ask any of your friends and colleagues if they think aging is something that can be controlled and most will say that nothing  can be done about it, that it simply happens and that’s that.

By now you will know that my answer to that is that they are wrong.  We may be lucky in having good, long life genes but the choices we make throughout our lives have a much greater impact than the genes we have been dealt.

We know that our bodies are continuously replacing cells and that billions of cells are turned over daily.  And for this reason, we need to be careful of the lifestyle choices we make.  As much as possible, we need to ensure that those choices are good and healthy ones because the renewal process works best if we provide the proper nutrients.

Added to this healthy lifestyle of exercise, what, how and when we eat, is the ever-present matter of our mind.

We now know that along with this cell regeneration our brain cells also can regenerate.  Much research has led to this discovery and many learned papers have been written on the subject.

I have no formal medical degree; no degree in neurology and would not presume to discuss this in detail but I am convinced that we can halt the deterioration of our mind, by simply taking care not to let our mind lie idle for any length of time.

My father at age 80 was diagnosed with macular degeneration and was told that he would inevitably go blind.  Now he was one of that older generation used to fending for himself.  He did the crossword every day without fail and as soon as discovered he had this condition he set about (with the help of my sister) training himself to do the crossword even though he would be unable to read the clues or see how the words fitted in.  To do this he would have my sister read the clues and over time became quite adept at completing the crossword.

You see, he had seen how the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease had robbed my mother of the use of her mind and was determined that it wouldn’t happen to him.  I am pleased to report that when he eventually left this earth at age 97 he was in total control of all his faculties.

So here was another example of what I should do with the rest of my life.

There is a difference between our chronological age and our biological age.  Chronological age is determined by calculating the years between the date of our birth and now; biological age is calculated by how old we are perceived to be.  This is based on how we appear, feel and act.  Unfortunately, these age barometers are not often in step.

I certainly don’t feel 72 (my chronological age) and according to those around me I don’t act that age.  So let’s see what we can do to improve our biological age while ignoring our chronological one.

Have you heard of Mavis Lindgren?  She is the 90-year-old marathon runner.  She retired in 1997 after running her 75th marathon.  This from Patrick Roden, A critical care nurse, who was a medical volunteer at the Portland Marathon of 1992 when he came to the aid of the celebrated 85-year-old marathoner, Mavis Lindgren

“What makes her story all the more exceptional to me is that at age 62, Mavis was leading a sedentary life, spending most of time reading, writing and knitting. She had suffered four bouts of pneumonia in five years and, as a retired nurse, she knew the antibiotics weren’t the long-term solution. Something had to change. A doctor urged her to join an early bird walking group. At age 70, encouraged by her son, she ran her first marathon! Two years later, she established a record of 4:33.05, and for the next eight years, held the world’s best time for women 70 and over. And at 84 she finished the Los Angeles Marathon

in 6 hours 45 minutes-the fastest woman in her age category. “After I started running, I never had another cold,” she said”

I am not suggesting that we all become marathon runners, but I do suggest that we take time to look at our sedentary lives and introduce a little exercise into them.