Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How to stop the onslaught of dementia

Wait!  It'll come to me!

Some people do Sudoku.  For others it's crosswords.  Still others, brain teasers.  All to keep their minds sharp - build their reserves against dementia.  My Dad, whose own father succumbed to Alzheimer's, has a vested interest in keeping his brain in gear.  He has a simple plan.  It all centres around The Witches of Eastwick.

If ever he's doubting his mental state, my Dad uses this movie.  It's his litmus test.  He figures that if he can name the three female stars of the movie, that he's still good to go, that the dementia hasn't set in yet. Which means, if he's having a bad brain day where words aren't coming and certain things remain on the tip of his cranium, he'll name the stars: Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon.  I guess for him, Jack Nicholson wasn't all that important to the story.  Or maybe Jack's too easy to remember - I mean, after all, he is JACK. Of the three actresses, Susan Sarandon seems to trip him up, but he always remembers, which is a good sign.

There are days when I too, worry if I will suffer from Alzheimer's, as my grandfather did.  He wasn't diagnosed until his 70s, so the fear of early onset isn't as terrifying for me.  'Course I'm in my mid 40s - my Dad will soon be 70, he jokes about keeping the wheels turning upstairs, but I know there's a part of him that's not joking so much as keeping an eye out.

When bouts of aphasia (speechlessness - sure, I can remember that word) hit me, I panic.  I use words a lot, I LOVE words - the more obscure the better.  When they don't come to me, I can feel a tide of helplessness in my gut.  I used to be able to remember everything - stupid trivial things - now when I'm searching for the word 'teapot,' most of me thinks it's just naturally being distracted from an over-scheduled life, but there is that tiny, niggling part that whispers, "What if?" 

Forgetting your keys is a normal brain fart.  Forgetting what keys DO?  Then you maybe should worry.  Me?  I put my keys in the same place in my purse every time.  I'm not giving the keys a headstart.

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