Tag Archives: dementia

Losing it

Humorist Dave Barry once said of memory loss, the nouns are the first to go.

You know the feeling. You’re deep in conversation and, mid-sentence, you can’t remember the name of a simple object or person’s name. I once worked myself into a panicked froth when it took me two hours to remember Roy Orbison. I knew the face. I knew the music—every lyric to every song. Just couldn’t retrieve the man’s name.

I’m here to tell you, officially, that my memory loss has advanced beyond nouns and into adjectives.

We were having dinner last night with some friends.

One was sharing her frustration with having two parents with Alzheimer’s Disease. Around the table, we knew too many people who had suffered from the awful disease and had far too many friends caring for loved ones with dementia. We talked about Alzheimer’s specifically and dementia in general and pondered how memory loss has become so prevalent.

Someone questioned whether dementia truly is an epidemic, or that we’re just hearing more about it. I posited that perhaps we are more aware because there are large facilities that now house dementia patients, whereas in prior generations, a doddering grandparent simply lived with his or her family, blending into the background of everyday life.

One of our dinner guests observed that even the term dementia seemed to be relatively recent. Back when Granny lived with her kids and grandkids, no one referred to Alzheimer’s or memory loss. There was another word.

Yes, there was another word. But what in the world was it?

Around the table, we all tried to remember. How did we refer to old people who had lost their memories? What was that less politically correct, more descriptively exact, word that we no longer use?

The conversation became uncomfortable. No one could remember this simple adjective.

I told our friend, “Stop trying to remember. It’ll come to you eventually. But when you do remember, even at 3 o’clock in the morning, call me. I’ll be up anyway with age-related insomnia.”

Shortly after our friends pulled out of the driveway, our phone rang. I answered.

“Hello?”

“Senile!”

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Filed under All Things Wordish, Family and Friends, Health

Dancing for marbles

About 10 years ago, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine completed research, funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, finding that frequent dancing improves mental acuity and protects against dementia better than any other type of physical activity.

Stanford University published an article about the study, not because they are one of the top medical institutions in the country but, and this was news to me, they have a vibrant dance department. They tout the 2001 study and other research to promote the University’s many dance programs.

I’m not sure how this bodes for my personal sharpness or how I will fare into my golden years. Except for a few ballet lessons as a child, and as a pretend go-go dancer in our garage when I was six, I didn’t dance much as a child. Not as a teenager, nor as a young adult, except at weddings. Now, I dance several days a week.

When I was 45, I started doing Jazzercise and, when I’m not sick or travelling, I go most weekdays.

Despite popular belief, Jazzercise is a vigorous total-body workout. It comprises about 35 to 40 minutes of aerobic dance, followed by 20 minutes or so of strength training to music. Still, it’s like going to a party every day. If I weren’t burning some 500 calories an hour, I’d almost feel guilty going. Now, I learn it’s a total-body-and-mind workout.

People thought I was crazy when I wanted to have a Jazzercise party for my 50th birthday, but that’s exactly what I did. I had my 51st at IHOP.

I wonder how many more years before the intelligence kicks in.

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