A New Life! Retirement at its Best 105


It is often called the disease of the century. In the past, it was rarely acknowledged, but as the numbers increase, the disease becomes more visible. Someone develops dementia every three seconds. Approximately one out of six people over eighty gets dementia, and the higher the age, the higher the chance. Of all the illnesses today it is the one we fear most. Our generation is now aware of it in a way that is vastly different from twenty or thirty years ago and this awareness brings social, moral and political responsibility. A diagnosis – very important to get it early – is just the beginning of a process with many stages, different for everybody, that can take years of fear and sorrow.

At the three classes at NCSU, and through a book I am reading, I have learned the basics of the various kinds of dementia. People in progressing stages of dementia who live here are moved from Independent Living to the Memory Care wing, and if you don’t have a loved one who moved there, you don’t see those people any more. They are well taken care of until the end of their lives, and their loved ones can visit of course, but for us they are out of sight, gone forever, even though they are still living on the other side of two doors. It’s all good and well to read about it and to talk about it, but for me it feels so unreal. I have not experienced the trauma that people go through when they keep losing more and more of their brain cells, which changes their perception of life, everything they knew and did and felt and created and makes them into helpless shadows of who they once were. It’s still unreal – it was that is, until dementia happened to a good friend, Jacob, living miles away.

Before we moved to the east coast and said goodbye, I knew that he had became more and more forgetful. Until then Dementia to me was a word, the name of a disease, dawning on the horizon, idealized by the powerful farewell letter of Ronald Regan, who said, “I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life.” But two years later, the very personal stories from his caregiver about Jacob’s condition, gripped my heart. The changes in him were hard to imagine; his manic behavior, the hallucinations that plagued him, the outbursts of fury, his inability to take care of himself – that was not our friend Jacob anymore; and yet, it was. It was the body of himself with a mind that was crumbling away. The realization that my wonderful, strong friend had the terrible disease that was changing him to a mindless human being hit me hard.

It is one thing to read about all that, but to know that these awful things are happening to a friend, a good friend, in his nineties now, and knowing that the symptoms are getting worse with time is unbelievably painful. How his caregiver must suffer. Eventually, even with the best intentions, it will not be possible for one person to take care of her changing loved one. A Memory Care Home with well trained people can take over – if there is insurance in place. I remember that I wrote earlier about a lovely woman with dementia and her husband here in Independent Living, who moved out. The husband, a Navy Veteran who proudly wore his cap day and night, moved to a less expensive place, and what happened to his wife is unknown. According to one of the managers people like that are just turned loose onto the streets. Just imagine. It happens. Not in a third world country, but right here in the city where I live! I heard about it but there was nothing I could do! The only consolation I have is that I bought her a flowered navy long sleeved shirt and navy vest last year, before she disappeared.


From one day to the next fall has arrived. From daytime temperatures continuing in the nineties and nighttimes barely offering relief, nights are now in the low sixties and today reached only 72 degrees. I love summer, but such hot weather is not agreeable with long walks, so fall will bring a pleasant change. Next Saturday Lani and I will start the next obedience class with distractions, and hopefully she will earn her AKC Good Citizen reward just before Thanksgiving. Phew! Then I will take a well deserved break and go to New York!

Last night after dinner, we looked at the Fall and Winter Music Programs in the Triangle area. I have learned to mirror-screen with my Apple TV, so we could see the programs together on the TV. We selected one concert each month, one ballet (Macbeth, supposed to be spectacular) and a couple of Christmas Choir performances, one of which at the beautiful, intimate Duke Chapel. We’ll have to find out in which performances Dennis is playing to double our enjoyment.

Because of that I did not walk Lani as usual, until it was completely dark. I was planning to make it a short walk, but in the dark I stepped into a foot-deep hole in the grass, right next to the pavement and fell. “I fell!” I said out loud to Lani, who had turned around and sat watching me. I never fall! This surprised me more than I was hurt. I got up, found both leashes and we continued our walk – short, to be sure! No damages other than a sore shoulder (the left one this time), a painful muscle down my right leg and a blue bruise on my right butt, where it had hit the pavement. It amazes me that bruises on my arms are always dark red and the one on my butt is blue! With the help of some Advil and a hot pad with our the morning coffee, floor exercises for the muscle, and a three mile walk in Wimbledon, I am almost good as new again today. To make sure nobody else would fall into the same trap (a large hole next to a sprinkler head) I stuck a thick, three foot branch into the hole and attached several orange tape ribbons. The gardeners will have to take care of it next week. It could have been much worse. I feel blessed !

It’s a Wonderful Life!

Until next time,




4 thoughts on “A New Life! Retirement at its Best 105”

  1. At our last PD support group meeting (in Tucson) we had to retired military paratroopers who talked about training to fall correctly. They have PD. A good book to have is PARKINSON’S DISEASE & the Art of Moving by John Argue.
    Thanks for your comments about Dementia. We had a close friend who “disappeared” past those double doors here in Tucson. She eventually developed Lewy Body Dementia and was gone even from the Memory Care facility. Never to be seen again. I miss her.
    Watch your step and carry a flashlight.

    • Thank you, Sam, for your book recommendation. I have not read it but will put it on my list to give to someone with early stages of PD. I had a good friend who got PD at 40 years old. He lived with it for many years and man, did he keep moving! He played golf on his knees with his son, a few weeks before he died.
      Through another friend I know that PD can develop into Dementia. It is terrible to witness from close-up. Those diseases take away their personality. I have a close friend here with LBD which I just learned about. Many varieties of Dementia are mentioned as Alzheimer’s, and most people who are not closely connected don’t know any better. I prefer to refer to Memory Loss. I hope that many cures will be developed in the near future. Thank you for sharing, Sam. Sending warm wishes to you for the best of health.
      And thank you for good advice! 😘

  2. Ronny, I just checked. I saw no robots that would stop anyone from commenting. And I see you responded to Sam above. And also, my previous comment (and this one) are not anonymous. Both have my name attached. Let me know if you have any other problems.


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