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Dementia Preparation

February 10, 2015 , , ,

let your light shine

let your light shine

My friend and neighbor asked me recently about my views on aging and dementia. She asked me if I would want to continue to live if I knew I would become demented like both of parents before me. I told her that not only would I want to live, but am actively taking steps to prepare for a care free and easy loss of memory. I am not even a tiny bit attached to most of the things that I know (or think I know).  I can easily do without many of the facts I have collected in life. After all, today we can ask the internet to file all of our important information, freeing us to do more creative work.  I embrace all the minutia that is now stored safely in the cloud, and the apps that give us access to it.  I don’t need all this in the hard drive of my computer, and I certainly have no use for major data storage in my precious brain’s memory.  My parents struggled with memory loss and confusion that made the end of life difficult for them. They had big control issues about being infallible and accurate long after they had the ability to understand what was happening around them.  I believe their problems were exacerbated by trying too hard to appear to be competent when it became impossible.

My neighbor says she plans to write a list of facts about herself and hide the list in her house. When she is unable to recognize the facts she said she will know she has lost her mind.  The irony in the plan is that the list itself would be lost as the first sign of trouble.  I have no such thoughts.  I think I will be able to adapt to memory loss because I have planned carefully to shift responsibility to reliable parties I already trust.  I have a professional accountant who advises me on tax issues and helps me navigate them intelligently.  Most of my investments are handled by my fiduciary who has a proven track record as well as a legal obligation to serve my financial best interests.  I have placed my assets in trust to simplify and secure the management of them.  We can’t foresee the future, but we can do our best to establish systems that will function well even when we may not be. We need to face the fact that our bodily health and mental skills are not eternal. We too will pass.  While I am still able I am investing in the only true wealth, my health.  My deposits into the health bank include:

  • mobility and flexibility- I keep my range of motion by using it daily for walking, gardening, water exercise, and weight lifting.
  • mental agility- I listen to poetry and have started creative writing for fun.
  • social satisfaction-I enjoy a wide range of social contacts, in my community, at my health club, and on the internet.
  • transportation- I live on the number one bus line, offering a straight shot to downtown or the U of A Poetry Center.  Seniors are given reduced rates on the bus lines. I can bike to my health club, and walk to the corner health food store. The recent addition of a Middle Eastern fast food restaurant on the corner is another walkable destination I enjoy.

Have you ever considered how you will stay secure if you loose some of your mental agility? Have you taken steps to make sure your own best interests are served if you can no longer make good decisions for yourself?  I believe that we can be happy and productive in new creative ways if we embrace rather than struggle against aging.  I fully expect to become a prolific poet, and I already don’t care who likes my poetry.  I think with the right attitude forgetting can be gloriously liberating.

What do you think?

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comments

I have been trying to figure this out. My dad is gone. My mom is still living but with a degenerative disease. My grandparents were pretty sharp till the end… I can’t say. I just hope that I can be as independent for as long as possible. I am working out almost daily 6/7 days…. and taking supplements and seeing md’s on a reg basis

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Stevie Wilson (@LAStory)

February 15, 2015

I believe the mobility and physical flexibility is very important, no matter what happenWorking out will serve you well, so enjoy. We all have a different set of risks, and I think worry is a risk itself.

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Pamela Morse

February 15, 2015

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