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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 5/28/10

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Dear Rachel,

This may sound crazy but I’m going to say it anyhow. My wife and I are in our sixties, we both maintain day jobs and host our married children regularly for overnight visits. The reason I mention all this is to suggest that maybe we’re working too hard.

I am worried about my wife. She was always on the ball but is getting increasingly forgetful. Like, she’ll run out of the house on some errand and inevitably leave something behind that she needed to take along.

There are actually times when she finds herself behind the wheel of her car without her car keys. If that’s not bad enough, she comes back into the house to get them and spends ten minutes searching for where she had placed them – only to find that she had dropped them on the car seat!

Can one become senile at this age? Can this G-d forbid be the start of Alzheimer’s disease?

Your column addresses a whole range of topics so I am hoping you can shed some light on something that has lately been bothering me.

Troubled in Toronto

Dear Troubled,

For the sake of setting your mind at ease, I will humble myself to my readers.

Just this past winter, when a snowstorm created havoc in the streets and for all of us who needed to get places, I decided it was the perfect time to get things done at home, the type of things that wait for a rainy – or snowy – day.

I had big plans. One of my houseplants growing out of its container was desperately begging for a replanting. Now who has time for mundane things like that? As I looked around, I began to make a mental list of things to be accomplished, like washing my living room window sheers that almost didn’t look sheer anymore due to the amount of dust that had settled on them.

First things first: I hauled the heavy bag of potting soil in from the garage and literally got right down to business. But as I started to fill the larger pot with earth, I noticed a crack at the bottom. So much for that-with no other suitable container on hand, all I managed to achieve was a mess on my kitchen floor.

About to fetch a broom to sweep up the spilled earth, I noticed a big spider watching me from the ceiling above. So I went for the vacuum cleaner (with the convenient long tubing attachment) instead.

Before I had a chance to turn it on, the doorbell rang-just some ambitious kid eager to shovel our driveway. Standing in the doorway, I couldn’t help but feel some sympathy for the restless birds who couldn’t scavenge for food since their “dinner table” (the wormy earth) was laden with some two feet of snow.

I set a plateful of sunflower seeds out and watched in fascination as a variety of colorful birds pecked away. Pretty soon the curtains that I’d been determined to wash came to mind.

While setting the ladder in place to aid me in my ambitious task, it suddenly dawned on me that there was laundry I had been too tired to do the night before and, well, I could take the curtains down after setting the wash machine to run. (I prided myself on my organized thinking.)

On the way back from the laundry room, I picked up some toys that were lying around since a recent grandkids’ visit and took them to our basement playroom.

That’s when I felt the sticky staircase banister and went for the wood cleaner. Sitting on the shelf next to the wood cleaner was the carpet stain remover. What better time to remove those annoying stains on our living rug, I thought. (At this point, I was beginning to feel super efficient.)

While I was down on all fours scrubbing vigorously, it came to me that the chicken defrosting on the counter wouldn’t do for dinner if I didn’t prepare it and set it to bake. So I (temporarily) abandoned the carpet cleaning.

Once the chicken was good to go, my hunger began to gnaw at me. So I popped some bread in the toaster and was preparing a salad when I suddenly felt that I was not alone. Sure enough, a cold, wet and hungry cat had appeared at our see-through patio door to take in my every move Oh well, my food could wait.

As you have gathered by now, by the time the day was done, little else was. In fact, I had awakened that morning to a fairly neat home, whereas now I had a vacuum cleaner lying on the kitchen floor, the mess from earlier still not cleaned up and the spider still staking out its surroundings.

The ladder, along with the carpet cleaner and schmattes, were cluttering the living-room floor, the banister was still sticky, the washing machine was still full, the curtains still dusty and my toast was hard and dry.

The experts are likely to blame it all on work or stress overload, and let’s not forget to mention that a certain degree of forgetfulness can be attributed to the aging process.

Alzheimer’s disease is said to produce symptoms such as confusion, problems with speaking and writing, loss of motivation, personality change, disorientation about time and place, as well as difficulty with preparing a meal and balancing a checkbook.

Medical conditions (such as a fever or even poor nutrition) can compromise the mind’s agility but proper treatment will reverse such setback. Physical exercise and mentally challenging activities are great at keeping the mind in shipshape working order, and it goes without saying that everyone can use some down time to unwind. (A vacation works wonders for the mind, body and soul.)

Your doctor can further allay your fears; why not suggest a visit to his office together? He or she will offer you a professional opinion and in all likelihood ease your concerns.

May you go on to share many healthy years together!

* * * * *

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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