Me and my partner in writing, Anna Wharton, are still best buddies. She didn’t abandon me and move on after we’d finished writing my book. We have shared so much of our lives together that now it feels like we’ve known each other for decades!
All our conversations are usually by WhatsApp and last Sunday was one such occasion ….they’re usually funny haha conversations, but Anna was in a ‘deep conversation’ mode…😂🤣
Anna had been reading a book review in the Times about navigation and how vital that skill is for humans….
Many people now rely on SatNavs to find their way around. I remember, when SatNavs first came out, and being astonished at how little effort it took to drive somewhere. I also remember feeling sad at no longer needing that touch of a map, that ‘working out’ where to go…..
Our brains need to work to survive and people with dementia need to do that more than others. That old adage of ‘use it or lose it’ never more true than for people with dementia. But the article mentioned dementia as well.
Even when I’m out and about, I still print a walking map, still like to plan my journey so that I feel as though I’m in control. I have the back up of Google Maps, especially for when it’s raining and a map suddenly turns to a soggy mess, but I prefer to look at the landmarks, find the street signs. I’ve realised how quickly I forget how to do things, how dementia robs you of that skill when you’re least expecting it, sneaks behind your back and snatches it away when you’re not looking.
Exhausting to do all this in my way, but maybe this is why my ‘strategies’, my use of my brain, especially since I live alone, has meant I’m still capable, I’ve still kept dementia at arms length…..
As soon as I realised recently, that I was forgetting how to book my own train tickets on line, for example – others being kind by suggesting they book them for me….but then I needed to book one myself, I struggled….I needed to go back to me booking otherwise I’d have to rely on others to always do that for me…..so many similar situations where people are being kind. But if we stop, we forget quicker than those without dementia…
Another advantage of living alone, is because I HAVE to do things, simple things, like make a cuppa tea, that so many others allow people to do that for them….
I can no longer write consistently legibly any more – the complex task of writing a difficult process. But I still write shopping lists every day. Yes, I type all the time, but I havn’t stopped writing, as I know, even my illegible scrawls will disappear, Only I have to decipher them and it’s no big deal if I can’t but I still continue.
Used in the right way, at the right time, technology is wonderfully enabling, for instance, now I find the phone difficult, I could stop communicating with people but the technology of ZOOM enables me to keep in touch with playmates via Zoomettes, doing interviews etc. So that’s the good side of technology …. but……..
As Anna said at one point in our conversation,
“we’re just dumbing down our brains with technology”
So I’d suggest to everyone, with or without dementia to think carefully about how they use technology and whether the brain is better in some cases….”Use it or lose it”…simple as that….