Tag Archives: alzheimer’s

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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Remembering Mother

Today I discovered Five Sentence Fiction when reading this blog and decided to try my hand at writing only five sentences.

A moment of clarity in the land of the confused brought on a rush of memories both to her and to those of us visiting her.  This once vibrant, strong woman had been reduced to a pale shadow of herself under the strong grip of Alzheimer’s. Disease.  Suddenly she was once again our mother, even if only for a very short time, when she knew our names and recognised each of us. The joy and happiness was unbounded and in that short time many happy moments and happenings were remembered.  But all too soon, the veil of the Disease dropped down and once again she retreated to the confused old lady she had recently become.

Lillie McFerrin Writes

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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Discovering Something New Each Day

Following on my determination not to let my mind lie fallow, I went with a friend to a presentation by Paul Hoogendyk on his travels with his wife Phoebe, to many corners of the world to meet with the ‘keepers of the ancient knowledge’.  Paul is a master carver of greenstone, the nephrite jade that comes from the South Island of New Zealand.  It is known as pounamu by the local Maoris.

The spiritual significance of greenstone has long been recognized in New Zealand and many believe that if a person is attracted to wearing a carving it will have an enhancing and empowering effect on their life.

Paul has been called upon by the Ancients to make 12 carvings to be planted around the world in various sacred places.  Read about Paul and Phoebe and their travels at www.ancientpathways.com.au.

I came away with much to think about after the presentation.  Paul is a master of story weaving and kept us entranced with his gift.  He told us a little of the people and places he and Phoebe have visited since their journey began.  I am looking forward to reading his book which we bought and listening to his meditation CDs (which I won in a draw).

So continue to stretch your mind.  Who knows where each thing will lead you?  For myself I am now on a path to discover more Story Weavers to hear and read about.

Until tomorrow.  Remember you are in control of how you will spend the rest of your life.  Will you have to ask your daughter “Who are you?”

Mother and her daughters c1945


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 everyday 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 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.

 


I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

During the last years of her life when my Mother was suffering from Alzheimer’s she rarely knew who I was.  She would mistake me for a nurse whom she would thank for my gift and on occasion she was convinced that she had never met me before.

On my last visit to her some years before her death, she had a few lucid moments and in one of these she briefly talked about my son, thinking he was a little boy still and saying that he could come and stay with her at any time.

How sad it was to see this once strong woman reduced to a shell.

Because I live on the other side of the world to her – she in London and me in Wellington NZ – I only managed to visit every two years.  On each visit there was a noticeable decline and her hold on reality was slipping further away.

Following her death I was ‘haunted’ with her question to me “Who are you?” that she asked on my final visit.  I determined then to find out all I could about keeping the mind active as well as to exercise to keep the body trim and fit.

I knew that our thoughts determine the results we achieve and in the next weeks and months I will share with you my journey.  The journey is still continuing and will do so until I die at which time I will not have to ask my daughter “Who are you?”.