I am now into my 4th month of living with a Stage One Alzheimer’s diagnosis. I am maybe 5 years into my diagnosis of Vascular Dementia and 25 years from when I first had an inkling of a memory problem. So how am I faring? The answer is, it depends upon the day and sometimes the moment.

I am always better in the morning and many times better all day if I get to the gym and pound away on the treadmill. It does not necessarily require a fast rate of speed but I do push the incline sometimes up to as high as 15 and I feel that makes a difference. Occasionally I go biking with my wife Kerry, but for some reason, even during nice days I prefer the gym. The single piece of advice for others with the same issue is to exercise, exercise; you will not regret it. It can’t cure the disease, however I do believe it may put it off.

 

As one over 70, I find that one acquires numerous afflictions, which require lots of meds, all of which clog the bowels and many times interact against one another. Now I know why 65 was determined to be a good retirement age. It is because beyond that, one’s time is taken up with doctors appointments, pharmacy visits and if lucky, minor surgeries (if not lucky-major surgeries). Prior to turning 65 I had one tonsil surgery at age 12. Once turning 65 I have had 6 surgeries including 2 new knees, carpal tunnel, minor shoulder, minor ankle, two stents, and a possible wrist surgery before year-end. I tell folks all the time if they have a bright child looking for a career, look at orthopedics or anesthesiology. With baby boomers continuing to age those can’t help but be lucrative careers. (As a side note, one of my favorite questions when I am about to have surgery and the anesthesiologist is about to put me under I look up and ask, “Are you a member of ISA”? (Iowa Society of Anesthesiology) The look I get back is incredulous but so far the answer is always yes. My former company manages their trade association and I want to continue to support our members.😊

Oops, I am off track from writing about my days with the big A. As things progress ever so slowly downward, I still feel comfortable driving, most of the time. I do stay very aware and when I feel a little off or need to travel to an unfamiliar place, my wife will drive. I want to be a responsible citizen when it comes to driving. I think driving falls in the category of things that I was very good at such as cooking, writing etc. Because I was very good at those things, I’m still pretty good at them, but those things I was never very good at such as spelling, sorting papers when they come out of the copy machine, remembering names etc., those things are now very bad.Not being able to drive at some point will be tough but not being able to cook or write will be awful-I think.

Meanwhile I will try and click along, participate in Alzheimer’s support group meetings and write about numerous things such as politics, foreign policy, the big A and maybe even cloud formations, which I am coming to enjoy looking at even more- that, and hummingbirds in our back forest.

Finally, if you have this diagnosis, please at this moment, go in and give your caregiver or spouse a smile and a kiss, which is better then being down.

Best,

D.G.