Blog

Shrinking world

She forgot herself, her old job, what she used to do.

Did I really work?

Did I do all that?

She forgot her relatives, confused her siblings with her children.

She forgot her in-laws, knowing they were still familiar.

She forgot her children, forgetting she is a mother.

She forgot her husband, perhaps not surprising, he’s been gone many years.

She forgot her grandchildren, doesn’t recognize them.

She remembers how to eat, how to go to bed, how to rise in the morning.

She remembers how to wash herself, though she confuses the shampoo with the body wash.

She remembers numbers, but just barely gets up to ten.

She remembers to smile and she smiles often, everyday.

Advertisements

Brownian motion

Maybe that’s what is happening in mom’s mind. Thoughts collide randomly and spark words which don’t always join up into meaningful sentences. When they do, it is not always appropriate.

Walks in the neightbourhood have diminished after my helper was told off. Mom was too excited to see a young boy on a bicycle and somehow this brought her back in time and triggered a memory. She launched into fluent and firm advice mode – you shouldn’t ride here, you should be more careful. She must have been so pleased to be useful.

The boy’s mom showed up and was not at all pleased. She must also have been fluent when scolding my helper for not keeping my mother out of her son’s way.

I wish people could be more understanding and accepting. The boy and his mother were foreigners, not that it really matters. It could have been anyone, but I feel a little upset that the mother felt so righteous in my country. I don’t know who they are, and have no way of apologizing or explaining. Maybe she is also sorry for losing it. Maybe one day she will experience the sadness of dementia first hand.

Intensity Matters

There are those who preach 10,000 steps per day
Is sufficient to keep the doctor away
But others beg to disagree, “Intensity Matters”, they say

Get your heart rate up and take a brisk walk
Put some effort so you can barely talk
Now pump your arms, run! and do not balk.

 

I used to aim for 10,000 steps per day, and tried to get it done at a steady pace throughout the day. However, new studies have shown that short periods of very intense activity are far more effective for health than prolonged periods of gentle activity. So I’m switching things up, and trying to walk briskly for 10 minutes at least twice a day, climb more stairs and get my heart rate up. It seems to be working, and I have more energy¬† – to walk faster, and climb more stairs.

 

 

Parkinson’s Disease

A dear old friend with Parkinson’s disease shared how the disease affected him. He could not move as he willed and sometimes froze unpredictably, and this affected his ability to walk and to eat. His handwriting has changed, becoming much smaller and less legible. Fortunately, he is able to type text on his phone and use his computer.

Mostly, he feels the loss of easy speech. Speaking is difficult, and speaking clearly is even more difficult. He explained that he makes a lot of effort to speak because if he doesn’t, his mind will shut down, because what’s the point of thinking if you have no means of expression? (If a tree falls in a forest and nobody’s there, does it make a sound?)

I started thinking about persons who have somehow lost the ability to speak, such as persons who have had strokes. How frustrating and lonely it must be not to be able to communicate, not to be understood. No wonder some persons with stroke end up depressed and withdrawn. It is a human need to be part of a community, and not being able to participate in conversation must be very isolating. In some strokes, as in Parkinson’s, the mechanical difficulty of speaking interferes with the process of communication, and such persons are still very alert despite not being able to express themselves. Their thoughts swirl in their brains, with no outlet.

In dementia, on the other hand, often the ability to remember and process thoughts occurs first, and the person is still able to communicate. I remember Mom making things up to hide the fact that she cannot remember. Her lies and confabulations flowed fluently. Later on, when her thought processes became more confused (although she did not realise it), she was speaking clearly enough to convey the confused logic to us. It was at this time that she would make up new words to replace words she could not recall.

Now, dementia has affected¬†both her ability to think and communicate in equal measure, so she seems fine. The other day, she mentioned that her memory isn’t what it used to be, and she has forgotten lots of stuff, but she did not seem too bothered by it, and accepts it as just the way things are.

 

Smart Phone

I was to meet a friend for lunch and told her to call me when she arrived at the mall.

I waited and waited and no call came. So I decided to check my phone. Dang it, there was a missed call from my friend that my phone had declined!

Have you ever had the experience where you put your phone in your trouser pocket and it autodials your last call? Or have you ever been on the other end and received calls from phones in pockets acting independently? And all you hear is the rustling of fabric and perhaps snippets of conversations not meant for you. Well I have experienced both these events.

This time my phone had gone one step better. It had not only declined my friend’s phone call but had also sent a text to my friend saying “I’m on my way”! So I hadn’t heard the phone ringing and my friend didn’t call back thinking I was already aware.

Now how smart is that? This phone is being too smart for me.

Gardens by the Bay – 3

This is my third and final post on my recent visit to Gardens by the Bay. The first two posts were on the flowers and succulents of the Flower Dome. This post will feature pictures from the 2nd dome, called Cloud Forest.

Cloud Forest is the taller of the 2 domes, and more humid. It features orchids, anthuriums and other tropical plants. Both domes are air-conditioned and a welcome relief from the year-round hot weather we have in Singapore. So truth to tell, this green attraction might not be environmentally green after all!

A multi-storeyed structure dominates the centre of Cloud Forest and there are multiple high linkways.

The variety of orchids was amazing!

Of course there were other varieties as well. It was time well spent with friends as we went around sharing what we noticed and enjoyed. To avoid the crowds, weekday and early visits are best.