Do you have to write notes for details you know you are going to forget? Or put a package by the door to remind yourself to take it with you? Or have a pill box so you know you’ve taken your medications – which I’ve found doesn’t always help? And now you’re afraid to mention your forgetfulness to your health care provider because she may say you have early stage dementia – and your life will be over! Or is that just me?
For 31% of older adults, dementia is their number one fear. But if you are concerned about your memory loss, talk to your doctor because there are many causes besides dementia: a new prescription, a urinary tract infection, or depression. But if you are diagnosed with early stage dementia, it is not the end of the world because there are things you can do. (Even if you’re just forgetful from time to time, keep reading. These suggestions are good for anyone.)
Remember you are still you! Even though you may have problems with memory, concentration and planning, enjoy the things you can still do.
Stay socially active. Keep in touch with others and engage in social activities with friends which is good for your confidence and mental wellbeing. Join a local dementia-friendly support group, (when they can start meeting again) where you can share experiences and learn tips from others who are living with dementia.
Look after your health – both physical and mental health. You know the routine: eat healthy, drink plenty of fluids, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. But also schedule regular dental, vison, and hearing check-ups; and if you feel depressed, which is common with dementia, talk to your health care provider.
Learn ways to cope. Have a regular routine, schedule activities for when you feel better (mornings? afternoons?), put your keys in a regular spot, keep a list of helpful numbers by the phone, use a pill box, and put your regular bills in one place so you don’t forget to pay them. (Thanks goodness my wife pays our bills!)
Plan for the future. You may be able to live at home, continuing to enjoy doing the things you have always done. But there will be a time when you may need additional support with daily activities.
Tell people about your dementia – when you are ready. You may be afraid of how they will react. But by example, you can help people be aware of and understand dementia, so that you and others with dementia can continue to live in the way you want and in the community you choose.
If you are ever diagnosed with dementia don’t let it keep you from enjoying the rest of your life. Everyone experiences dementia differently and with the right help and support many people can, and do, live well with dementia for many years. To learn more, the Oregon Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association Is a valuable resource.
Also from a local perspective, in this paper’s August installment of “Through the Eyes of an Elder”, Britta Willson, manager of Providence Hood River’s Volunteers in Action and a trained gerontologist, will share her thoughts and those of others about “Dementia-Friendly” communities.
The name of the animated comedy series that brought us Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Porky Pig was Looney Tunes. I received correct answers from Jim Donnelly, Lana Tepfer, Mike Ballinger, Tiiu Vahtel, Julie Carter, Sally Crisp, and Molly Fauth – this week’s winner of a quilt raffle ticket. And Dave Lutgens reminded me that I forgot to mention him last week. I knew there was someone!
We all remember Bugs Bunny’s, “What’s up Doc?” or Porky Pig’s “That’s all Folks!”. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the voice actor, responsible for most of the Looney Tunes characters, who attended Lincoln High School in Portland before beginning his career at the age of 19 in 1927 on KGW and then working for KEX in 1933? Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a message at 541-296-4788 or mail it on the back of a blank sheet of paper.
Well, it’s been another week, missing the hugs and handshakes. Until we meet again, as Bugs Bunny once said, “Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out alive!”
“I think there’s so much good in the worst of us, and so many of the worst of us get the best of us, that the rest of us aren’t even worth talking about.” Gracie Allen