Dementia and How I Acquired It

About five years ago daughter Kate and grandson David saw a video about tying shoes a new way. They tried it, and so did I. After a few weeks, the process became automatic. I no longer supervised my fingers with my brain.

Fast forward to the present. I tied my left shoelace and paused. Since I learned a new skill late in life, what would happen if I forgot how to do it? I would watch my fingers and translate action into words that I could write down, just in case. I stared in disbelief as my trusty fingers fumbled. The action should have been fluid, twisting the lace around and pulling one bit through the other. Nothing worked. I blinked, looked away, and tried again. Think! No! Don’t think! Go on auto-pilot! It was no use. I could not tie my shoe!

I took giant clown-steps to my desk so I wouldn’t trip on the lace ends flopping about. I flirted with the idea of finding a video, but that seemed dangerous. Would I recognize the correct method if I saw it on the screen? I read some blog posts, knowing my brain would focus on the words and forget that I couldn’t tie my shoe. Evidently that worked. I’ve worn shoes every day since, with the laces tied. No one can tell by my appearance that I have had a serious senior moment.

Instead of worrying, I should have an emergency plan. Hopefully, one of the three people living here will be available if it happens again. If not, I pray that neighbor Logan (10) will have his own cell phone by then. I will text him and ask him if he can come outside to play quietly tie my shoes for me.

66 thoughts on “Dementia and How I Acquired It

      1. After experiencing my father’s Alzheimer’s, there are negatives. There are also many blessings. If we have experienced it in our own family, it is realism, and we can also find optimism. No judgment either way.

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      2. I can’t believe you are a pessimist at all, memories of our dinner together still are cherished.
        About the shoe laces, I am sure I will forget the way to my kitchen soon. It happens, Anne, especially when we are preoccupied with so many things all at once.

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        1. I don’t EXPECT good things, so I’m always pleased when happy events occur, like our being able to share a few hours together.

          That’s amusing that you might forget the way to your kitchen.

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            1. Thank you for letting us know you are fine. I think of you often, but I don’t act on that. On Sunday Lise flew back to Denmark after being here for five weeks. It was a very busy time, and I had to skip reading a few posts. Things are slowly returning to normal.

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  1. Your experience reminded me of the time when Forrest and I first started a healthier eating lifestyle. We’d been on it for maybe a week, when one morning at the computer I knew something wasn’t right with me. I flat couldn’t think. I didn’t know how to operate the computer at all!! I told Forrest I couldn’t make my way around the computer. He assumed I was trying to get out of a program and kept telling me to “X” out of that screen. Finally, in tears I said I didn’t know where the X was and I didn’t know WHY there is an X! Having been the person prompting the new diet, he knew immediately that my loss of thought process was due to low sodium. It was something the diet addressed that could happen. He fixed me a bite to eat and suddenly, all was right in the world! Who knew a deficiency like that could make so much trouble? The thing is, memory loss can be anything! And of course as we age, forgetting many things is normal. Good thing you have help if you need it!!

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  2. I had a similar experience last week. I had tied a slipknot on one side of my mask to tighten it while talking to my husband. Then I went to do the other side. I had absolutely no idea how to replicate the knot even though it was clear that I had already tied one. I had to stop thinking, go back to talking, and let my fingers remember by themselves.

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    1. One daughter made so much fun of my velcro sneakers that I didn’t buy any more. She was ashamed to be seen with me, or so she implied. Another tourist saw me at Mount Vernon and asked where I got my wonderful footwear. I was glad Daughter wasn’t there when I told her where to find them.

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  3. Thankful for good young Logan to the rescue again!!
    I totally get it. Like putting one foot in the bathtub and trying to remember if I’m getting in or out! Getting old is a barrel of laughs!

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    1. I get the most mileage from things I hear. When I repeat what I heard, listeners fall off their chairs laughing. Hearing aids will be my first old-age crutch. Meanwhile, I’m getting lots of fun out of getting old.

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  4. Every once in a while I forget how to swallow. Thinking about it only makes it worse. It only resolves when I distract myself. I am very impressed that you lost some muscle memory due to the fact that you were broadening your horizons by learning something new.

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    1. Well, the muscles worked, but the brain got in the way. I had to quit thinking in order to tie my shoes.

      That’s amusing that you can forget how to swallow. I was driving myself home from a dental appointment, and I couldn’t remember where to put my tongue. Should it be behind the teeth? or keeping the teeth from touching each other when not chewing?

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  5. We all have those moments Anne. My mom keep on reminding us everyday that she wants to go home but keeps forgetting is she has taken her maintenance medicine which I give every morning to her.

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  6. I took a class once when I was needing to learn how to care for mother, one of the things they taught us is we all forget from time to time, but retracing our steps then remembering later as an aha moment is proof, it is not dementia. Whew!

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      1. I am sure you’ll be fine. Your mind is so active, I can’t imagine it. I’m sorry, I’ve not been as active. I really need to get onto the wordpress site and get reacquainted with how to blog with the new formatting. I find it so discouraging and frustrating, so see there, your mind is considerably more agile than mine is. You don’t seem to have a problem there.

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        1. I began using the new editor when WordPress started pushing it. I don’t do fancy things, and I’m pretty good at reading directions. There is often a question mark in the lower right corner of the screen, and you can see what articles cover what you need. I have also gone to a happiness engineer when I got in over my head. They have always been very helpful. I hope you will try it and conquer it. It’s quite logical to me, though I have forgotten some of my early anguish now. I’d be happy to answer simple questions if I’m able. If you go to my site to the contact page, you could send me a message so that we could write private emails

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  7. Overthinking is the culprit. Relax, have a treat, my human was talking on her phone once and wanted to look something up so she started looking for her phone! You humans are weird. That nice Logan will help if needed.

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  8. Spring is on the way…that will clear all of our heads a bit. I tend to wear slip-ons…hmmm…how will I tie a bow when it is required? Even the question is daunting.

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  9. I had some good laughs Anne at some of the comments! Believe me, I’ve often hunted for eg specs, sunglasses, keys, called in my husband to help – either on top of my head, in my pocket or heaven help me, holding them. Have you ever tried wiggling right foot in clockwise direction and left hand in anti clockwise direction? If you can you’re the Madam of the Universe. Ask your grandkids to do it –

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    1. I just wiggled a foot and a hand in opposite directions. It was very easy, but then, I’m sitting down. I’d have a harder time doing it if I had to balance on one foot. I’d probably end up on the floor. Is it supposed to be hard? I just thought of two cog wheels turning. Of course, I’m used to having my hands and feet do different things (former organist).

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  10. I have these senior moments all the time. I think sometimes my brain just gets in the way. I find it mostly with names. People I have known for years, but maybe haven’t seen for a while (almost everyone during this pandemic) and my mind is a blank. I panic. Then, when the moment is over, their name comes to me in a flash. Too late! Maybe I should get a young neighbor to help me remember names?

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    1. Years ago my sister-in-law was in the car with me, and I stopped to pick up a neighbor walking home. I practiced the neighbor’s name as she got in the car and introduced her. I couldn’t remember my relative’s name, and I’d know her well for at least 10 years. Aauughh!

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  11. Anne, you have me in laughter but I feel your anxiety! Sounds like you have a good plan B should you need it in the future. Now, I’m wondering what was this supposedly better faster way to tie one’s shoes? But I fear I might learn it so well I too would forget the normal way!😀

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    1. I have no idea if the shoe-tying process has a name. David taught me. As to anxiety, I should have added that I’m not concerned about real dementia. That is going to be John’s problem or that of our children! I do plan to fight it as long as possible, though.

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  12. Those senior moments – sigh. I go downstairs and have no clue what I went down for, so must return and try to rack my brains for what I was doing before I went downstairs. (Not every time mind you, but often enough.)

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  13. may I make a suggestion Anne?………..take the shoe off and place it on your lap. Turn the lights low so there isn’t any bright light around you. Practice tying the shoe and when you think you have it,close your eyes and do the same thing. By doing this you will begin to lay out new neural pathways. New circuitry.
    You won’t ever forget again

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  14. Your writing is sharp, witty and often makes me laugh out loud! I believe you are of very sound mind. You’re right-the overthinking gets in our way-we need to just do the thing!

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  15. I have lost a word. I know it now and for the next few minutes but I know it will soon be gone. The reason I know it now is Bill told me it is the word “mussels.” It is one of my favorite foods but evidently my subconscious has wiped it out.

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