Aging Gracefully – Nature or Choice?

Last Sunday, Feb. 6, was my grandmother’s 93rd birthday. There is nothing wrong with her, physically, but her mind is gone. She has no short-term memory and her long-term memory tends to focus on negative things that happened decades ago. She is dying but very sloooowly. This not-so-graceful aging has spurred many discussions in my family, because none of us want to end up like that.¬† Is aging gracefully a matter of genetics or a choice we make?

If it is somehow genetic, we’re in big trouble. But if it’s only partially genetic and partially a matter of choice, we’re in a better position. Recent studies on aging seem to indicate that it’s both, but that attitude plays a BIG part in how gracefully one ages. Being mentally curious, wanting to learn new things and being engaged with the world seems to be a key, though medicine doesn’t know how that influences our physiology.

 

My little grandmother – my only surviving grandparent – has never been a mentally keen person. She has never been one to get out and socialize, never wanted to take a class or go to the theater or even play Bingo. She is the only person I know who actively dislikes music. She has no reason to live, really, but also has no desire to die. She is sort of wasting away, drinks only when forced to and eats almost nothing. She remembers none of her grandchildren or great-grandchildren and often asks my mother who she is and who her own children are. It’s sad, but I know many elderly people end up like this. So the question is: how do each of us make sure we don’t end up like that?

 

I think the fact that all of us Banditas and Bandita Buddies are avid readers is a huge plus in our collective favor. The fact that we are socially engaged, reading and commenting on blogs, is another big plus. We seek out new authors, new books, new brain food. We hop on the internet and research interesting topics. We seek to learn more about interesting things we read in books, on news sites or see on TV shows or in movies. I think we’re on track to age much more gracefully¬† than my little grandmother. It’s too late for her, but we can choose – at least in part – how much we enjoy the end of life!

 

What things do you do that you think will help you age gracefully? What hobbies, habits or pursuits keep you mentally engaged? What would you like to start doing in this New Year that will keep you lively for the rest of your life? I am always looking for new and interesting things to do, so please let me know!

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Comments

51 thoughts on “Aging Gracefully – Nature or Choice?

  1. 1
    Barb says:

    is he coming to me ……

    • 1.1
      Helen says:

      I do hope he enjoys the weather up in Coffs Harbour

      Have Fun
      Helen

      • 1.1.1

        Are you in Coffs, Barb? Hope it’s not as stinking hot as it is on the Sunshine Coast! The rooster might think we’re finally sick of his antics and cooking him after all!

    • 1.2
      Caren Crane says:

      Barb, I think you get him for today, as well. So sorry for the days-early, then disappearing, post! Surely he hasn’t stayed all week?!?

  2. 2
    Barb says:

    I think I have already aged gracefully… or maybe disgracefully….. so I think I will carry on as I have been

    • 2.1
      Caren Crane says:

      Barb, we haven’t met in person but I would say you’ve aged very gracefully! We certainly love having you around here, graceful or not. You fit right in! :D

  3. 3
    Helen says:

    Caren

    It is so sad when this happens my Nana was a bit the same although she did like to go to bingo but really only socialised with family and just a couple of friends.

    I do love to read and I think that this is a great way to keep your mind active and yes although I don’t go to as many blogs as I used too because of time I still love to get on the net and have a look around.
    I should be more active as in walking but that kinda hurts if I am on my feet too long so reading and surfing the net will have to do for me

    Have Fun
    Helen

    • 3.1
      Caren Crane says:

      Helen, I have no worries about you not staying active and engaged. If anything, your grandkids will be lucky if they can keep up with you! It really is sad to see people who have no real interests as they age. My little grandmother is one of those and it is heartbreaking.

  4. 4
    Dianna aka Hrdwrkdmom says:

    I remember when my grandmother passed away, before we took her to the hospital she wanted to go to the river and go swimming with me. Let me mention here that my grandmother was 5′ 2″ tall and just about as round as she was tall, and never in my memory (I was 17 at the time so the short term and long term memory was functioning quite well) had she ever been to the river let alone in it. She was often asking me just which one I was (I am thinking of her grandchildren but she could have been thinking daughters) “It’s Cookie grandma.” Oh, the tall one, (again, that could have been either me (among the cousins I was the tallest) or my mother (among the children mother was the tallest as well). She just seemed to wake up one morning without a clue as to where she was or what year it was either. I don’t think I want to get to that point, just the thought of not knowing my children or granddaughter just tears my heart to pieces.

    • 4.1
      Caren Crane says:

      Dianna, did you ever take your grandmother to the river? :) I expect not. My grandmother always wants to go “home”, though she isn’t sure where she means. The confusion must be horrible for the older person, even more than for those of us who have been forgotten.

      My grandmother did remember me twice on her birthday. She looked at me both times and said, “You’re Caren.” That was really nice, because she hasn’t remembered me spontaneously in quite a while. I think on her birthday it was because I had on no eye makeup and probably looked much like I did when I was 12!

  5. 5
    Dianna aka Hrdwrkdmom says:

    What happened to the other post by the way, I know the short term memory isn’t what it once was but I distinctly remember commenting earlier in the day.

    • 5.1
      Caren Crane says:

      Dianna, we had all sorts of technical issues last Sunday. You certainly did comment on Jo’s post, which will probably reappear someday. Doh!

  6. 6
    Amy says:

    My Grandmother passed away September 9, 2012 at the ripe old age of 97. Until this past year she was active, went on trips read, watched tv, still DROVE, she even drove the women who couldn’t drive any longer to their women’s lunch! THIS is how I want to live. My grandfather, her hubby, died 25 years ago this past May, but she “talked” to him every night as she sat in her chair and looked over to where he should have been sitting (I inheirited his chair). My grandmother had 2 best friends, one since she was 3 and one since she was 5. These 3 women did EVERYTHING together; marriages, babies, jobs, grandbabies, LIVING. About 2 years ago one of these friends passed away. After her passing my grandmother began saying she didn’t want to be here any longer, even though her other friend was still living, Hey, they even called each other every night to check on each other (they both lived alone). After the new year of 2012, my grandmother just said she didn’t want to live til she was 97, she had a fall in late March and she just gave up after that. Luckily for me, I got to see her in July,she knew who I was, she knew everything still. I even handed her a ring which had beflonged to her mother, my great-grand-mother and asked her if she knew who’s ring it was. She did, and she told us (my cousin and I were in with her together), again, the story of where the ring came from and how her mother got it. Pretty good for a woman determined to pass away. Like I said, that’s how I want to go. No, I’d prefer not to fall, but I’d kinda like to pick my time, and I think she did pick hers.

    • 6.1
      Caren Crane says:

      Amy, that is a truly inspiring end-of-life story. That is how I want to go, too. I hope that since we are all rather sociable people who make an effort to keep in touch with our friends (and cyber-friends!) we are setting ourselves up for an active mental life as we age. I hope so!

      Two of my best friends both have really debilitating physical conditions, so I don’t anticipate them being around until their 90s, BUT they are also the funniest, most mentally engaged people I know. Whenever the end comes, they are bound to still be sharp as tacks! I really think that’s about as good as it gets.

      So happy you go to spend those precious last moments with your grandmother. What a gift!

    • 6.2
      Cassondra Murray says:

      Amy, that’s a great story. That’s how I want to be.

      If I can’t just “poof” I want to decide it’s time, and I want to go.

  7. 7
    Mary Preston says:

    It’s the same with your mind as with your body – use it or lose it.

    I can’t begin my day without doing a number of mind puzzles that I love online – a cryptic crossword & a regular crossword and two word puzzles.

    My Mother at 87 does her crosswords & Sudoku each day PLUS she reads.

    My Father has Alzheimers. Before it took over completely he had a brilliant & active mind, so I hope this is not my future.

    • 7.1
      Caren Crane says:

      Mary, it sounds like both you and your mom are set up to keep the razor edge on your brains! It’s sad about your dad, because he obviously had a rich mental life. Alzheimer’s seems to be at least in part hereditary, though they don’t seem to know why it happens, really. I certainly hope it skips you and we can keep chatting until we’re too feeble to boot up the computers!

  8. 8
    Jane says:

    I love crossword puzzles and trivia and I hope that will keep my brain active. My dad loves Sudoku. I think we’ll have to watch what we eat, take vitamins and make sure we stay active(walking) in order to live longer.

    • 8.1
      Caren Crane says:

      Jane, it sounds like you’ve got it down pat. I think the part many of us miss is the exercise. Because really, that’s only fun for my younger sister who is a freak. :D I am not someone who loves to exercise, but if someone will walk with me and talk the whole time, it’s all kinds of fun! And I do love having exercised.

  9. 9

    Caren, how sad about your grandmother! My grandmother who passed away in 2010 lived to 102. That sounds like an achievement but the sad thing was she was utterly sick of life by then. Most of the people she’d loved or who had shared her life had passed away and life was just a series of nasty aches and pains and inconveniences. Yet, as her doctor said regretfully, none of the problems she had was likely to take her away so she just suffered. She stayed reasonably mentally alert to the end – given what my mind’s like now, if I’m as semi sharp as she was at anything like her age (not that I want to live that long), I’ll be satisfied. If reading is good for ageing gracefully, I’m going to be fine, LOL!

  10. 10
    Carol Cork says:

    I think I’m ageing gracefully. I was 66 last year and luckily I’m still physically fit and try to walk as much as possible. it helps no longer having a car though. The blog I started last year certainly keeps me mentally active plus lots of reading, of course. I even started tweeting last year and never realised how much fun it could be or how many new and interesting people I would meet. I found a tweeter friend who lives locally and we’ve met for coffee and are going to meet for lunch. I think keeping physically and mentally active and have a positive attitude to life helps me grow old gracefully.

    • 10.1
      Caren Crane says:

      Carol, I am so impressed that you started a blog last year. I’m not sure that I would have been that motivated, honestly. Good for you! I am especially impressed that you’re Tweeting. I’ll get going on Twitter and do well for a week or so, then it gets to be too much. Your stamina is amazing! :)

      I think it would be really fun to meet someone in person who was only a cyber friend. That has happened to me, but only with romance writers and a few readers. Maybe someday I’ll branch out a bit!

  11. 11
    Anna Sugden says:

    Fascinating topic, Caren and one very close to my heart. My wonderful FIL is 90 and a poster boy *g* for how to approach old age. Despite losing his beloved wife of 62 years, a few years ago, he continues to live life as they did together – even down to ordering the same groceries and cleaning on the same days.

    He still cooks and cleans for himself, is always forward looking and makes an effort to get out and about every day, even if only briefly.

    He got an iPad for his 90th birthday – he missed out on the computer generation! – and loves it. He does Sudoku puzzles on it every day and loves learning all it can do. Of course, getting emails from his kids and grandkids makes his day! I hope I have half his zest for life.

    • 11.1
      Caren Crane says:

      Anna, I am so impressed with your father-in-law! It’s amazing to me that he has taken to the iPad so readily. I can’t imagine some of the older people I know (the Luddites) adapting to technology like that. For many of them, e-mail is something really tough to grasp! I’m sure he is happy to have a way to readily know what’s going on with the young people in the family.

      I really hope the energy thing is like getting a second wind and that when I’m older I have much more energy than I do now. Please!

  12. 12
    Mozette says:

    My Grandpa – on Mum’s side – passed on on December 1st, 1997. What a year that was for me. First, Lady Diana, then John Denver and then my Grandpa! Wow!

    Anyway, Grandpa was dying very slowly too. He had blocked carotid arteries and they didn’t find out about them until it was too late. This starved his brain and he got dementia early in life. Before he became lost to us, he was a big reader, loved gardening and enjoyed playing pool, snooker and billiards under the house. He was a big church-goer too and went to Lodge on a weekly basis and was a Whovian as well… his favourite being Tom Baker (yes, he’s mine too! Both of us wondered how he never tripped over that flipping long scarf!). So, Grandpa was very active… but it was the blockages that slowed him down markedly.

    Recently, I got my carotid arteries checked and they’re looking great! I saw it on the screen that my pulse was good and strong and the blood was getting through well! How great is that! Mum has told me that it’d be a good idea to keep a check on them to make sure they stay clear as – if this could happen to Grandpa – it could happen to any of us in the family.
    But I’ve been getting in and painting, reading, gardening, knitting and learning to crochet (left-handed too! As I’m a south-paw!) and it’s all keeping me going. I’m also learning to speak Spanish as well on my iPod. :D Very cool stuff indeed! :D

    • 12.1
      Caren Crane says:

      Check you out, Mozette! I love that your grandpa was a Whovian. Extra snorts for the flipping long scarf! :) Yes, our bodies definitely can betray us in terrible ways. I anticipate having LOTS of physical issues as I age. I’m lucky to be really healthy at 47, having had Type 1 diabetes for 31 years now. I try to force myself to exercise, but that’s an ongoing struggle. Because I’m dead lazy. Seriously.

      I love that you’re learning Spanish. Are you planning to find some Spanish-speaking friends to practice on? That could be really fun! :D

      • 12.1.1
        Mozette says:

        I hope so… as I began learning it when I had a friend teach me a little some years ago. Her Mum was from Peru and she didn’t speak much English and so it made it easier for me to speak to her… so she felt at home with me around here in Brisbane.

        When the family moved away and went sailing around the world again, I kind of lost the feel of it. I began watching movies and television shows with the language in it and loved how it sounded. And seeing that college courses are hard for me to get to, I thought to buy the app and course on iTunes… it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. :D And it’s something I can use in my travels too.

        I can also speak the tiniest bit of French thanks to learning it at school. This is a language I’ve used during my time in Vanuatu and in New Zealand as well. And I got to have a full-on conversation with a man from France who was living here in Australia. He found my English/French accent very sexy… :P well, so he says. :)

  13. 13
    Deb Marlowe says:

    Much love to you, your Mom and Grandma, Caren! I watch my mom allowing her world to get smaller every day and think “I’m not going out that way.”

    I hope when I’m getting up there I’m still talking, laughing, working, traveling, planning..Heck, we can be the eccentric old ladies in the home together..the ones all the other ladies gossip about!
    :-)
    ::-)

    • 13.1
      Caren Crane says:

      Deb, we will DEFINITELY be the eccentric old ladies, no matter where we are. And the subject of much gossip, for sure. Plus, we can write erotic novellas involving senior citizens. I’m sure there’s a niche market! Then everyone can be scandalized! :D

      I don’t see you letting your world get tiny. You always have 100 things going on!

  14. 14

    Great post, Caren. Seeing the differences between my mom and her sister is amazing. They are only two years apart but my aunt looks and acts a good 10+ years older than my mom. My mom is 85 and my aunt is 87.

    My mom is constantly interacting with my brothers and sisters or some of her many friends. Every time I call her she is heading off to lunch with some of the women she used to work with or going to a retired officers meeting (my dad was in the air force) or doing something else.

    My aunt doesn’t have the best relationship with her kids. She goes out when my mom takes her out shopping or for lunch. And she goes to church. She is very frail looking while my mom look far closer to 70 than 85

    My goal for this year is to start exercising again (something my mom still does) and getting out with my friends more.
    .

    • 14.1
      Caren Crane says:

      Christie, your mom sounds amazing! My BFF’s mom is 83 and looks and acts FAR younger than that. She has macular degeneration, so she has lots of trouble seeing, but it doesn’t slow her down AT ALL. I am so inspired by her and people like your mom. Oh, and our friend Howard, who is 91 and went on a 14-mile bike ride on his birthday last September. He is amazing!

  15. 15
    pjpuppymom says:

    I’m 61 but I don’t have good genes in my favor so I make choices that hopefully will keep me around for awhile and continue to keep me aging gracefully. I have fun and fulfilling hobbies. I work, volunteer, read, write, travel, am socially active and (this one’s a biggie) I enjoy life. I love young people and interact with them whenever I can. I’ve always had a positive attitude. I’m one of the “glass half full” people and I think that’s an important part of aging gracefully.

    I hope I’ll have a lot of years ahead of me to continue to fine-tune that person I want to be when I finally “grow up.” ;-)

    • 15.1
      Caren Crane says:

      PJ, you are such a wonderful, positive person that I’m sure you will outlive all of us! Like you, I love young people and I think being around all that youthful energy must be good for us. I don’t find them annoying like many “grown ups” do. My husband thinks we both (he and I) are just refusing to grow up ourselves and that’s why we love the youth. I’m not sure about that, but does it matter? I think not!

    • 15.2

      All I can say is – you BETTER make good choices that keep you around as long as possible, pj. Things wouldn’t be the same without you.

  16. 16
    Deb says:

    Caren, this blog hits right at home for me. My dad, who is 83, has Alzheimers. His short term memory comes and goes. Some days he remembers what happened that morning, some days not. Some days he reads the paper once, sometimes 10 times. He knew my daughter on Christmas Day, but wasn’t too sure about who she was on Thanksgiving Day.

    My dad has always been an analytical thinker and had a mind like a steel trap. He used to be able to tell you what happened on such and such date in X year. I like to remember facts like that, too, and I sometimes have a bad memory, so it’s scary.

    Dad has always liked music and still does. He had always been kind of a grouchy, sometimes negative person when I was growing up, but now he laughs and smiles a lot. The stress of Dad’s dementia, though, has taken a physical toll on my mother. Ironically, Dad is physically fit and has never taken any meds of any kind. Mother is mentally fit and has physical ill-health. BUT, she, the typical housewife of the 50s and 60s, has taken over all finances.

    I play word games, such as WWF on Facebok. (I have 20 games going on right now with various people.) I like to read.

    Sorry to go on and on, but, as you can see, it just it home with me today. Big hugs to everyone.

    • 16.1
      Caren Crane says:

      Deb, I’m so sorry to hear about your dad. I’m sure that is exhausting for everyone, especially your mom. It’s hard to think it could happen to you (or any of us), but maybe all we can do is make the most of today and each day we have of (relatively) good memory and brain power. I feel like I forget more all the time, which is scary. But part of that is having lots to remember, which isn’t a bad thing. :)

      I’m sure we’ll be chatting for decades to come, so no worries there. They will be taking my electronic devices away from me in the nursing home, I’m sure. :)

  17. 17

    Very thought provoking post, Caren. I’m sorry I missed it the first go-round on Sunday. I was completely locked out in the SNAFU!

    I never knew my father’s parents. They both died before I was one year old. Daddy was #17 of 18 children, so Grandma was in her late 60′s and grandpa early 70′s by then and both died suddenly.

    Mama’s parents on the other hand did live quite a number of years longer. Grandma Cindy Jane was 84 when she passed away. She’d been showing some signs of early Alzheimer’s, but it was a bladder infection that took us from us so suddenly. And Grandpa Sherm…(you might remember the blog I did about him a while back), he was 99 and six months when he passed.

    He was old from the day I met him. But he played pinochle nearly every day or checkers with any grandchild he could con into playing with him. He always watched the news, or listened to it on the TV when his diabetes slowly took his eyesight. He told some great stories and loved to visit with family.

    His body slowly gave out long before him mind. He might not see you, and you had to sit right beside him and tell him who you were because of his blindness, but once he knew who it was, he’d have cognizant conversations with you about you and your life and the state of the world. (And how much he hated the Yankees during baseball season.)

    He once told me when he was about 98 that “It’s hell getting old, Suzie. I’ve outlived everyone.”

    But I’m glad I had him in my life as long as I did. I’m hoping I find a way to age gracefully both physically and mentally.

    • 17.1
      Caren Crane says:

      Suz, it’s so great you had your Grandpa Sherm around for so long. My grandmother, too, has lamented the fact that she’s outlived all her siblings and cousins and even some of her nieces and nephews. She was the youngest of 10 kids and drove everyone to the doctor when none of them could drive anymore. She also spent lots of days visiting others in the nursing home when they were dying, so she knows how ugly the end can get. I wish she had been able to hang onto her mental faculties like Sherm did. What a wonderful thing it would be for me to get to tell my great-grandkids about how things were back in my day!

  18. 18

    Caren, I’m so sorry about your grandmother. It must be hard for her family, too, especially for your mum.

    My mother’s female relations have a record of longevity. The eldest was still touching her toes every morning well into her nineties and very active in mind and body. I think you’re right, that is one of the secrets. My grandmother was a cryptic crossword fiend, which I believe helped, too.

    I’ve seen on a science and technology program doctors say there are amazing benefits to weight training, so I’m going to get into that when school goes back. A friend of mine is getting herself tutored in high school maths to keep her mind active and supple. Not sure how I’d go with that!

    • 18.1
      Caren Crane says:

      Christina, I definitely think being active mentally and physically must help with the things that aren’t genetic. I keep hearing about cryptic crosswords – must look into that! I adore crossword puzzles. Not so much Sudoku. It’s challenging and fun, but sort of…boring after a while. My middle child LOVES Sudoku and finds it very relaxing. Me…not so much.

      Not sure I’d sign up high school math courses again. Wasn’t once painful enough? Your friend is a right glutton for punishment! :)

  19. 19
    Cassondra Murray says:

    Hi Caren,

    My mom is 85 and she still drives the 80-plus miles down here to see me on holidays. She has worked hard at trying to learn new things, volunteering, keeping on gardening and canning, and doing stuff. She has done it on purpose so that she doesn’t forget how to think, process, and learn.

    At this point we have to go over the turns and how to not get lost on the new interchange where she makes her exit–but it’s a stupid interchange design and I’d like to smack whoever designed it. I have to watch closely or I will get lost.

    That said, I notice that she’s getting a little slower at being able to process stuff like that. She has stopped making the six-hour trip to my sister’s house by herself, and she doesn’t drive at night now.

    I have decided that it’s very easy to fall into a rut and not spend the energy to get out of it, and that change, and going with that change, is a part of what keeps us young. I have allowed myself to become sedentary physically, and this is the year I want to change that. Even if it means getting out in icky weather to walk or move my body, I want to do it. And I love sudoku, but it is easy to just let it sit there and not pick it up.

    I find myself reaching for the comfort of the same movies, the same music, the same drink, the same restaurants….and this is the year when I want to catch myself early in those patterns and change them up. Keep things fresh. I also fall into melancholy easily, and I want to laugh more. Watch comedy. Pull out the old episodes of I Love Lucy.

    Ruts are seductive. I want to bust the ruts this year.

    • 19.1
      Caren Crane says:

      Cassondra, how awesome that your mom makes herself do all those complicated, involved processes. I think she’s exactly on target to stay as sharp as possible. I’m amazed she still makes the 80+ mile trip to your house, especially since it involves the interstate! Not sure I’ll be up for that at 85. Pretty sure I will be taking back roads! :)

      Oh…the lure of routine. Isn’t it incredibly seductive? It’s so easy and comfortable to come right home from work, put on my yoga pants and polar fleece hoodie and read and watch my BBC faves on Acorn TV. To stay in and not venture out into the cold, dark night. I sometimes have to really psych myself up for going back out of the house, especially in winter. I am SUCH a creature of habit that it goes against my nature, at times, to get and see people.

      I force myself to go to Lady Jane’s RDU every month, even though I don’t know many of the people. I make myself chat and act friendly and interested. And then I am friendly and interested! But pushing myself out the door is tough, even if I’m meeting good friends.

      My BFF lives 15 minutes away and I swear that MONTHS go by without us seeing each other. It’s horrible! I think – even though I’m a firm anti-resolutionary – that I will make a concerted effort to get out and do things this year. Although I really love my recliner… :D

  20. 20

    Caren -

    Hugs on your grandmother. That must be difficult for your family. Both my grandmother (the only one I ever knew) and my dh’s grandmother had slipped into their own private worlds before they died and no longer recognized their own children. I’m pleased that so much research is ongoing regarding dementia. I hope they hurry up as I’d like to avoid that aspect of aging.

    For me – I’m a very social person and I think that may help. I do aerobics in a class twice a week and mat pilates onces a week. If I miss a class, I hear about it from my classmates. It’s motivation. I’m involved in a number of writing groups via the computer – that has to keep us current and knowledgeable. Love to read, love to write, am looking forward to the “someday” when I can pull out my paints without feeling guilty that I’m not writing. I love animals and probably will always have a pet. I think they help to keep you spry as well.

    Not sure what I’ll do differently in the new year, but I’m far enough in the aging process to be aware of the choices I make.

    • 20.1
      Caren Crane says:

      Donna, I think going out to an exercise class is a great motivator. Like you, my mom has a class she regularly attended before my grandmother came back to stay with her. She really misses the socialization and the exercise. She feels guilty because she’s looking forward to not being a caretaker any longer.

      Personally, I don’t think she should feel guilty. Who looks forward to something like that? As much as you love your parents, no one wants to see them be so dependent on their kids or any caretaker. It’s unrealistic to expect that you won’t look forward to getting your life back. I told Mama it was like me looking forward to the kids going back to college. I love them, but I love my alone time, too!

      I really hope we figure out how to avoid the really horrid parts of aging before I am old and have no memories of my kids!

  21. 21
    Pat Cochran says:

    You’ve touched on major areas of my life,
    sixty-five + years of reading,and forty years
    of volunteer work. Add to this a deep in-
    volvement in religion and music/choir. I
    think I’ll just continue what I’ve been doing!

    Pat C.

  22. 22
    catslady says:

    My mother is 90 and is just starting to show signs of forgetfulness but nothing horrible. She loves to read and has always been physically active – more physical than I’ve ever been lol and eats healthy. I think the thing that slowed her up the most was when my sister decided she should no longer drive 3 yrs ago which makes her feel more isolated. Her brother who is 92 is still driving. They have a sister who will soon be 89 but she hasn’t been doing well for a very long time. She’s a bit of a hypochondriac and I really think all her meds did a lot of damage. So besides reading I do crossword puzzles,belong to a card club and never use a calculator and of course do a lot things on the computer – I love games of all kinds. I do need to get more active though.

    • 22.1
      Caren Crane says:

      Catslady, it sounds like your mom is from a very long-lived family! At 90, she has lasted longer than my grandmother did when she started “slipping” – sort of losing little bits of short-term memory a piece at a time. That was somewhere about 87, which is when I think my uncle went and made her turn in her driver’s license.

      Once she no longer drove, she became quite isolated, since she lived in the country and nothing was close by. None of her kids or grandkids lived close by (the closest was 3 hours away). So, although she had nieces, nephews and cousins around (and one sister who was still alive at that time, but in failing memory) she didn’t get out much. When people would try to pick her up and take her places, she would refuse to go.

      Her world, sadly, got very small in a hurry. I hope all of us can manage to keep at least our virtual worlds large, even if we can’t get out in the world much physically!

      And speaking of the physical, I seriously need to go exercise today! :)

  23. 23
    Kaelee says:

    Dementia is such a terrible thing to live with. I really hope reading and doing puzzles and stuff keeps it at bay for both my husband and I. A lot of my husband’s family suffered from it. A not so funny story resulted when two of his aunts who were sisters were sharing the same room in a long term care center. You went to see them and each one would not know who you were and complained about that other woman in their room. When his grandmother was in the hospital for the last time we went to see her and my husband became one of her sons in her mind. He got asked how the harvest was going and if he could really afford the time to come visit her.
    My sister’s husband who is quite a bit older than her is starting to lose it a bit. He remembers a lot of stuff from his past but his short term memory is going.

    • 23.1
      Caren Crane says:

      Kaelee, isn’t it frustrating when the dementia isn’t from something you can point to, like Alzheimer’s, but just appears out of nowhere? It does seem to run in families a bit. My grandmother’s next older sister – about 5 years older than her – went through the same decline my grandmother is. It was just the same, except her physical health probably wasn’t quite as good as my grandmother’s.

      Had she lived a few more years, they would probably have ended up like your husband’s aunts! They certainly would have been complaining about that grouchy old lady in the next bed. Guarantee! :D

      We need to exercise our brains and bodies as much as possible, I suppose, and hope for the best!