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Archive for the ‘Not quite Saturday’ Category

They say that if you keep your brain active and alert, it will slow down or prevent the onset of dementia.  

As a retiree, I find the eventual possibility and onset of dementia worrying.  I therefore keep as active as I can, I read copiously, I undertake puzzles and games on my iPad and I complete jig-saw puzzles.

All of this (hopefully) helps to prevent my memory from deteriorating too quickly.

It is also suggested that learning a new language can help to slow down the process of age related memory loss – or brain ageing.

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Well, bully for me – because I am desperately trying to learn Spanish.

However, I’ve never been good with language classes.

At secondary school, French was a subject only accessible to the top class (class ‘A’).  It took me a few years to reach that level and once I started to move up through ‘B’ and finally to the ‘A’ class, it was not accessible to me because I’d missed those early years. Later, at catering college, French Language was offered on Friday afternoons but it was not interesting and made no sense to my sixteen-year-old self.  Yet, the ‘kitchen’ French I learned in normal catering classes WAS interesting and I devoured that. I have always been able to decipher menus during the (roughly) thirty consecutive years I have visited France.

As a young adult, I attended evening classes, to learn German. I enjoyed those as they were aimed at grown-ups and Jill, the teacher, was fabulous.  I passed my Institute of Linguists ‘preliminary’ exam – no worries. The second year didn’t take off however and my interest lapsed.

I picked up French again when I began teaching, but by now it just seemed very hard and my progress was very slow.  I tried lunchtime courses, evening courses and – just a few years ago I attended an inclusive course in Sancerre.  I can get by in French. I can get by in German. But I cannot converse in either language.  Anything other than travel requisites (food, drink, fuel, rooms, tables, directions) and I begin to flounder.

I do not want that to happen with my Spanish. 

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I want to communicate socially and conversationally. 

To be fair, I am probably already at the stage it took me thirty years to reach in French, but it seems to be SO DIFFICULT.

And yet, I’m still avoiding formal classes.

Formal classes haven’t worked for me so far, so I’m undertaking some self-directed learning for now.  I’m using Duolingo as my base and have just recently completed ninety consecutive days of learning.  Each ‘day’ has a minimum of 10 minutes – I set that up at the beginning. I often do far more than that, but on busy days the minimum is 10 minutes.  I’ve found that online learning works ok for me, but that it does still lead to some confusion.  I therefore back up my learning on other sites and dictionaries. Google Translate is a Godsend.

750px-Flag_map_of_Spain.svgBecause Duolingo is available on the computer, as well as on my iPhone and iPad, it is constantly available.  If I stop for a coffee, instead of simply reading Facebook posts, I can complete a five-minute lesson on Duolingo, or its sister App Tinycards.  As time passes I find myself going over lessons more and more because the new words are taking much longer for me to process.

And that’s the thing:  How much more vocabulary do I need (do we need, as Sharon is also trying to learn Spanish) before I start to think in Spanish?  Some words and phrases come immediately to mind, without thinking what I need to say and, to be more fluent/competent, this needs to happen more often.

I have recently been given some children’s crime/adventure books, in Spanish, which I am beginning to wade through just now.  I know about 20% of the words on the page and understand about 40% of what is going on – but I have to stop and translate whole sentences to get the full gist.  I’m enjoying doing that – so perhaps all is not as bad as I think.

After all I studied for and achieved a Masters Degree – how hard can this be?

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For a few years now, I have had an inclination to grow a Movember moustache but could never quite be bothered.

This year however, that changed and on October 31st, I set out to grow a grand moustache on behalf this worthwhile charity.

But I’ve shaved it off now.  It’s all gone. I have a clean top lip and it’s only 13th November.

IMG_9248Why have I done that?

Well, despite all the hype, Facebook posts and the convenience of a Just Giving page, I have only managed to drum up my own starting contribution.  What’s more, I am told (by people I regard as friends – and family) that it (the moustache) makes me look:

  • ‘old’ (well, I am getting on that way), or …
  • ‘angry’ (I’m not!) or …
  • ‘a twat’ (a matter of opinion?), and …
  • I was offered money to shave it off.

I took the money and feel clean again.

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Yesterday, I visited mum and dad to be with them when the Locala lady, Yasmin, came to assess their bathroom needs.  She, Yasmin was lovely and very helpful.Cold-call-flickr:markhillary:964441032-2

While they were all talking in the bathroom, I took a call on my parent’s landline.  It started with “hello, Mr Sugden??” [a short breath], “is that Mr. Sugden??” I said that it was (well it was! – not the one she wanted but …) and she started again “hello Mr Sugden, please don’t worry, this is not a nuisance call but we’re an energy saving company, working in the area and can save you £400 per year”.  Well, much of that is paraphrased, but it WAS an unsolicited call aimed at tricking old folks out of their money.  The manner in which the words were addressed at me was soothing, confident and understanding and in no way the sort of sales call that I might get on my own landline.  She went on to say “I just have a few questions to ask you – none of them personal so …” – I interrupted at this point to ask where she got ‘my’ details from; she said “I have them here, on my list”. I asked her to remove ‘my’ details from her list and never to ring this number again.

I didn’t get her company name. My parents are listed on the national TPS

“elderly people receiving an average of 39 nuisance calls a month – 50% more than the general population” – (https://www.theguardian.com/money/2016/aug/06/phone-service-protect-elderly-fraudsters-nuisance-calls )

All of that would have been ok but later, when my parents and Yasmin were talking in the kitchen, I answered a knock on the door.  A guy, probably in his late fifties, looked visible shocked to see me answer it [I don’t think that I look like Mr. Gullible – yet] and asked “Mrs? sorry Mr Sugden??” I said yes, I’m one of them!  At which point I guess he knew the game was up.  He told me he’s come about the mattress they had discussed with my mother on the phone the previous day.  I told him that my mother has Alzheimer’s disease and that he/they shouldn’t be cold calling old folks like that.

I only managed to get the name on his van – Mobility Care – and the telephone code 0115 so that could be http://www.mobilitycareproducts.co.uk/ in Derbyshire.  If I’m wrong, I apologise unreservedly – but if Mobility Care is the company who are cold calling old folks – then shame on you.

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Photo Credit
Mark Hillary: https://www.flickr.com/photos/markhillary/964441032 – with thanks for using Creative Commons

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I took advantage of an unusually dry day today,  to take a bus up to the top of Varley Road (I wasn’t walking up; it’s too steep, too busy and there are no footpaths) and I then walked along Chain Road (B6107) to Marsden.  The views from up here are tremendous and now that we’re a good way into August the heather is beginning to populate the hillsides and tops.  Along with the purple thistles, and other pink/white flowering wild flowers – the colours are just beautiful.

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There is a slightly higher route, on Marsden Moor proper, alongside the water channels originally designed to move water to and from Deerhill and Butterly reservoirs, but I fancied the road route as I would return to Slaithwaite along the canal.

The canal was wet and muddy after all the rain and in places, showed signs of having been flooded at some point. Still the rain stayed off and I had a pleasant five-mile walk.

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When the weather is nice here in the UK, we can experience the most wonderful scenery. From where we live, rugged countryside is never more than a few minutes away.

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Alzheimers

My mum’s deterioration continues.

Whereas just a few months ago she would argue that there was nothing wrong with her memory and try to help with the cooking (she actually thought she WAS doing ALL the cooking), she now seems to accept that she is no longer capable of either remembering, or cooking.

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During the second visit to the memory clinic, the consultant prescribed a pill for mum. This is designed to slow down her memory deterioration. The doctor told us that there was a choice of two pills that would help mum. Because mum’s kidney function does not look great, but her pulse rate was ok, she had to prescribe Donepezil.

“All three cholinesterase inhibitors (of which Donepezil is one) work in a similar way, but one might suit a certain individual better than another, particularly in terms of side effects experienced.” **

I had to ask then, given that the pulse rate suggested mum’s heart function was ok, what the cardiology appointment was for at the end of July (which, by the way has now been cancelled and is causing no end of phone calls to be made to find out why and/or re-book).

Readers of the previous post will know that as the consultant was not aware of that appointment (which came following an ECG mum had had as part of this memory clinic process), we had to hold off on the prescription, and she said would get back to me as soon as possible.

Three weeks on an I am still waiting to present the prescription at the chemist.

Since our first visit to the memory clinic at the beginning of May, we have become aware of many previously unknown support organisations. These however, seem to be seriously undermanned and overworked.

  • An Admiral Nurse phoned me to ask what they could do to help – but as we were at this stage, I could not say. She did however, give me lots of information that I have yet to fully digest. Most of it seems to involve the council and lots of waiting.
  • The lady from Making Space said that she would send off for, and then help us fill in, Attendance Allowance forms – as these were reputed to be horrendous. This she did and the forms arrived two weeks ago. However, getting in touch with the same lady on a day that she is working has been impossible. I eventually presented myself at their office and sought the help of someone else – who will meet us tomorrow.  Even if the help isn’t as urgent as it may seem for my mum, the forms are official forms with a date stamped return date, which is fast approaching.
  • At the memory services clinic itself, I never seem to get the same person twice. When I first became worried about mum’s prescription, I phoned and was told that they (the consultant’s office) were waiting for a reply from mum’s G.P.  So – I visited the G.P. surgery and found that the reply had been sent by FAX the previous week. When I phoned the clinic again and told them that the G.P.’s answer should have been received, I was told that the consultant was on holiday, but that mum’s case would be one of the first dealt with on the Monday (this week).

I phoned again on Monday and left a message with whoever answered the phone.  I called in at the clinic on Tuesday and left a message with whoever answered the phone that was handed to me on reception. It is now Wednesday and I was told yet again that a note had been left for the consultant/doctor to call me to say “yes” or ‘no” to the prescription.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all of this so far, it is to begin early (i.e. when you are much younger and more capable of pushing hard for the services you deserve) and to try and avoid June – August, when everyone goes on holiday.

** From: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/info/20162/drugs/105/drug_treatments_for_alzheimers_disease/3

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/118316968@N08/19444505382 – with thanks for using Creative Commons.

Future posts on this subject can be seen here: https://failingtoremember.wordpress.com/

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I took my mum for a memory test yesterday.

She’s eighty-seven.

Sadly, my mum has been slowly losing her ability to remember certain things, over an extended period of time – probably for about three years. She copes with most things on a daily basis, with help! Without my dad, I suspect that she would have tremendous difficulty coping with day to day things like cooking and eating. This isn’t to say that she isn’t ‘all there’, she is: she takes part in discussions (when she can hear – her hearing aid is not always fully loaded and ‘on’) and retains a wicked sense of humour.

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However, despite not wanting outside help (“David, whilesoever as I can manage, I want no one else coming in here to help**) my dad has been asking the doctor if there’s anything they can do to help my mum. [I have to say right here that I have THE very lowest opinion of my parents’ doctor, both historically and presently]. The result, after a fair amount of nagging is this memory test.

Dad didn’t want to go with my mum as he felt that he would get too upset, which I suppose, after sixty-six years of marriage, is understandable. Also see ** above. So, the original appointment having been when we flew to Spain in March, I visited the centre, rearranged the date, and off we popped yesterday.

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Mum hated the idea of going (I hesitate to say that she was terrified); she accused my dad of going behind her back and of being sneaky (by asking me to go with her instead of him).  Also: “no one told me about this! I’m not losing my memory, I’m ok!” etc. Yet, once there, having been assured for the umptieth time that I would go ‘in’ with her, she was lovely.  She was calm and had no worries. Once the young (very pregnant) nurse had introduced herself and directed us up to her room, mum was the personification of ‘nice old lady’.

elephant-1090828_1280She answered all of the questions as honestly as she knew how and seemed to feel no pressure at all throughout the full hour of questioning. On the standard test, she got 59% (the standard being 85% ish) and for me it was easy to see exactly where she was losing ‘it’. Mental sums and short term memory tasks were very poor, but at longer term knowledge (that is a penguin, that is a kangaroo etc.) she was much better.

She still thinks that she has no problem remembering things (I haven’t had sugar in my tea for forty-five years – yet I’m asked every time we visit) and insists she’s ok with money; but she’s not.

However, she wasn’t fazed by having to go, soon, for a brain scan and then, afterwards, to see a specialist doctor. But those are hurdles to cross further down the line.

What do we hope to get from this?

I’m not sure.

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What can I say about India, that I haven’t said before?

Not much!

pani-puriIt bustles. (It REALLY bustles). Although where we are based this time, out on the outskirts of the city proper, it doesn’t bustle quite as much. It still takes a brave man or woman to cross the road at most times of the day – something that seems to be achieved with ease by the locals but which fills me with dread.

It smells. There is such a variety of smells too, from the rich and sweetly scented to the downright sewery pongs of open drain networks. Now we’ve spent a little time here, I think we realise that the running water (smelly running water) is pump-out from the many building sites up and down the road. It looks like the have reached the water table in the site next to us and are pumping the water out to build foundations.

You walk in the road. Most of the pavements we have to use on our 10-15 minute walk to work either don’t exist, or might have done at one time but have fallen into disrepair. Dust is everywhere and is kicked up by the relentless turbulence of passing traffic. Along our route, there are various commercial outlets – it’s difficult to use the term ‘shops’ because whereas some ARE shops in the traditional Western sense, others are tiny (tiny!) sheds with the vendor’s goods laid out on (for example) a carpet, or hand carts piled high with all sorts of things: grapes seem to be popular just now, we’ve seen a number of carts piled high with tiny green grapes. (There’s even an unrefrigerated pork shop!).

There’s rubbish everywhere. In-between those commercial outlets, in what appears to be no-man’s-land, is rubbish. Not necessarily smelly rubbish but all kinds of other detritus. Certainly, much of the broken pavement can be found in the rubbish piles, but there’s also bits of iron, old boxes, trailing wires, bags of unspecified garbage waiting (forlornly) for pick up and, in one place, huge piles of paper. In fact, I’ve now seen, several times, a man sat tying up sheaves of papers – so I guess that the piles of paper are his and that one day a truck will come along and take it away after paying him a small pittance for collecting it. No one says that the locals are not entrepreneurial.

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I suppose all that suggests that I don’t like it here – but nothing can be further from the truth. 

This is my third visit and I’m still fascinated by India and by the Indian people. See previous posts:

I cannot comment on the countryside as I’ve not really seen any. On each visit to Bangalore we have travelled from the airport, which is miles outside the city proper, to our hotel and not really seen anything other than urbanisation and cityscape. The city is HUGE. The third largest population in India (some fact sites tell us) and it is still growing very, very quickly.

scaffoldOur hotel is surrounded by building projects.  On all sides there are cranes, banging machinery and some of the ricketiest scaffolding you’ve ever seen. From the roof terrace, there is not a direction I can look in that does not have building work going on (hence the dust).

We see workmen scrambling along the scaffolding and wonder how they don’t fall off. I suppose it’s some improvement in health and safety that they always have a clip-on harness while they do this but – who knows.

 

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