The author explores the conditions of Alzheimer’s and Dementia in his novel, The Gate, Things my Mother told me, available on Amazon.com
We count material wealth, fame, and social standing, among the sought after blessings. Those of us who are a little more humble are satisfied with good friends, serenity and an environment that exemplifies the beauty of nature. For the second group, physical and mental health is virtually taken for granted. It is almost a consequence of a formula promulgated by the famous architect, Mies van der Rohe that less is more. Within a margin of reasonably comfortable life, the less you have, the less you have to lose. Less to worry about. Hence, serenity.
Unfortunately, we age. What sufficed when we were young seems to fall short when the old bones begin to ache with every move. On the other hand, we are not called upon to move that much. We can take a cart, rather than walk a round of golf, we play doubles rather than single in tennis, and generally we do not expend as much physical energy as we used to.
Regrettably, when we cut down even on those few activities, which helped to lubricate our brain with an added flow of blood, we tend to slow down also mentally. We don’t exactly come to a complete stop, at least we don’t think we do, but others, well, usually behind our backs, suggest that dementia is setting in. They regard this mental condition as most unfortunate; a condition to be pitied. We pretend we don’t really notice it, lest the one suffering from it might feel embarrassed. It’s rather like going to see a psychiatrist. It may be beneficial but, unless one lives on the upper floors of apartment buildings overlooking the Central Park in Manhattan, one doesn’t brag about it.
Dementia is considered a no-no. It shouldn’t be. Dementia is a blessing.
Think about it. Dementia is characterized by progressive loss of the immediate memory. We forget what we had for breakfast; where we put our car keys. Then, what we had for dinner last night. Later, what day of the week it is. We slowly forget all the non-essentials, the nonentities that throughout our adult life cluttered our brain with a mass of often-redundant facts, which in no way contributed to our happiness. Essentially, we finally forget things that are not important. Instead, memories of our youth, even childhood, seem awakened as though from a long protracted dream. Memories of simple joys, of youthful fun, come to life, as though invoked by a magic wand. What a magnificent blessing! We forget what only last week made us worry, what preyed on our conscience, what made us take life so seriously. Instead, we are flooded with memories of glorious yesterdays. That’s pretty much what dementia enables us to do. To relive our past. Selectively. Should you be lucky enough to suffer from dementia, you’ll be as happy as most children are. Carefree, relaxed, you’ll enchant people with your easy smile. And if they are lucky enough, you will share with them your wondrous memories of childhood.