Beating back mental decline


I am fighting hard. I knit (my occupational therapy), I read, I write, I think, I study. I have a referral to a neurologist.

I am not sure if I am losing the battle or just going through a flare-up or a bad time (I also have a lot of pain right now — this is what it is like living with Chronic Lyme disease). It is difficult being locked up in the house with a foot or two of snow on the ground, or the yard a huge muck like it is right now after a day of rain on top of the frost line. I haven’t been outdoors in the sunshine digging in the dirt. I don’t get to eat much organic produce. I am not getting enough exercise.

I love finding articles about how to fight off dementia. Not all dementia is caused by Alzheimers. And so far what I am dealing with is not considered dementia: I am suffering from memory loss, mostly short term, that seems to be getting worse. I now set two separate alarms to remind me of appointments, alarms to tell me to pick my son up after school, alarms to tell me to go to class, alarms to tell me to bring my camera to school and alarms to tell me when homework assignments are due. In addition to these alarms I now must write down and post on the fridge appointments highlighted in pink and recite to myself the night before that I have an appointment. I must mentally walk myself through what I need to do in order to show up at that appointment, so that I don’t just completely forget. It is frustrating. My doctor really took my memory loss seriously when the day before I completely forgot my appointment. The office made a new one for the next day because they were so concerned.

My blood work was all within normal ranges, even the Vitamin-D (which had been severely deficient) and B-12 levels (which had been very low) — so the supplements I am taking are helping just not with my memory. Last time I got this bad my Lyme-literate medical doctor put me on Biaxin for six months and I recovered a lot. She doesn’t treat Lyme patients anymore. It is bad business to treat Lyme patients in Connecticut. So I decline.

I knew this day was coming but I hoped it wouldn’t be this soon. And I hope that it is temporary due to the season. I hope that as soon as I can get back outside in my garden that I will feel better, experience less severe brain fog, and be sharper again. I hope I can beat back this decline. I hope.

Good thing I know how to use tools. So far I haven’t needed to ask my kids to guide me through my day with reminders, though I did ask my son to make the grocery list. I can’t make lists anymore; I can’t think of what goes on them.

Enough about me and my memory loss. I have learned some things that help me and read of others that could help all of us as we venture forth into mental decline — I now know what “She is so sharp, though, even if she is 98 years old” means. I am pretty sure that won’t be me.

Learn a language. Apparently the process of learning a foreign language helps mental acuity overall.
Practice algebra or any other kind of abstract math. For me this stimulates my brain and helps my sharpness all around.
Read. Keep reading. Don’t ever stop. Learn new words. Look up words that are unfamiliar. Write them down. Keep a word journal.
Knit. I am a slow knitter but I am sure that this exercise aids my brain in spatial reasoning, math skills, and muscle memory.
Gentle exercise. Anything that oxygenates the brain is important. Muscle memory again.
Deep breathing. Anything that oxygenates the brain . . .

So this is why I sit at my computer so much, writing down everything that pops into my head. When I read over past blog posts, I often don’t remember writing “that.” Apparently, my intelligence isn’t declining, just my memory. So often, though, I cannot think of the right word, so first drafts of anything include a lot of ______. I fill them in later when my brain has finally made the connection to the place where that word is stored. I often have to do an internet search using a phrase that might bring up the word. God bless the internet!

So if I forget something, forgive me. If I fail to follow through with something, gently remind me. Just remember that I am not stupid. I am not less intelligent than I was a few years ago. I just have a poor memory. Give me credit for working very, very hard to compensate for this brain failure. I think I need to buy a pack of sticky notes.

Have a great Sunday!

2 responses »

  1. The game chess is good brain exercise…been thinking about buying good but inexpensive set. Randy is definately down with it. Saw the movie searching for bobby fisher…a must see…for inspiration. I definately forget quite a bit. I go through mental alphabet to remember names or words. Its my method for me and it really worths for me 90 percent of the time. We all use lil tricks for ourselves. Getting old is a bummer…cant imagine limes on top of it. Oh my tablet has calender, notepad thingy and lots of alarms for whatever. Helps me take meds etc. Can customize individual alarms so as I know what it is without seeing it…woo hoo! Sticky notes are a must. Bill stuck to front door as a reminder to pay trash guy. I have all other bills on autopay. Ha, forgot husbands name the other day for a sec. Yup…geezin!


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