Extraordinary Stories

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Monday, March 28, 2016

The "Forgetful Disease" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Can't find what I did with my glasses.  I know I took them off a few seconds ago so I could begin typing this story, but can't remember where I put them.  Now, for many, it's no big deal when you can't remember something, but for others it can be devastating.  For me ... well I seem to be able to always find my glasses, but … I often wonder.  I'm sure most of you have heard of dementia.  Just in case, it is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life.  Memory loss is one example of dementia with Alzheimer's being the most common type of dementia.  When my mother and father reached their mid-80s I could see they were more forgetful, but not to the point that it totally interfered with their daily life.  Dad's memory remained fairly strong until his death at age 87 while mom tended to repeat herself many times, not realizing she was doing it.  She did enjoy doing word search until she died at the age of 90.  Recently, in the local paper, there was a story about a fellow who, at the age of 57, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.  
A visual from Harry Urban's website.
He knew he had it, but knew he couldn't stop it from happening.  He knows what his future will hold, but doesn't know if he will ever realize it when it happens.  Harry Urban has several Forget Me Not groups on Facebook as well as talking at nursing homes with people who also have dementia.  Every couple of months he goes to the local hospital where he addresses those who are just now finding out they have Alzheimer's.  He writes a blog that you can visit here: http://www.mythoughtsondementia.com/index.html.  (I found the link may not work at times, but you can copy and paste it to reach the blog)

As for me,  I think often what it would be like to experience dementia.  It only drives me harder to keep my mind active and participate in as many new and exciting experiences as possible.  I find laughter is the cure for so many things in life and try to practice it often.  Today I was making a visit to our local library and as I walked into the building came face to face with a slim children's activity book titled "The Unforgettable Adventures of Grandma's Cape."  
Cover of Activity Book written by Joel Kroft
and illustrated by student Gabrielle Hoffman.
One of our local retirement communities partnered with the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design to produce a children's activity book geared to teach them about an issue that could perhaps affect one or more of their grandparents.  The activity book tells the story of a child's relationship with a grandparent and how it changes because of the "forgetting disease."  Grandparents are held in such high regard and a life-changing disease such as Alzheimer's can be hard for a young child to understand.  The activity book is meant to help with understanding the disease for the child.  
One of the inside sections.  Click on to enlarge.
The author of the booklet was Joel Kroft and senior Gabrielle Hoffman was chosen as the illustrator.  The story deals with Grandma who at times forgets about her cookies in the oven and often looks scared and sad.  She had to go to see some doctors and the little boy in the story asked her if she wanted his cape.  That made her smile.  The booklet tells children how the brain can be changed by dementia and how they can help Grandma cope.  Neat book for children ... and I found that I enjoyed it also.  None of us know if or when we may at some time be diagnosed with a debilitating disease such as Alzhemer's, so we just have to live our lives to the fullest while we can.  I know I'm trying to take my own advice!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.   


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