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Today in My History

2000:  Cross Your Heart
2001:  Everybody Loves Barbecue
2002:  I Know I Left My Head Around Here Somewhere
2003:  Peace or Pieces
2004Addiction is a Terrible Thing
2005:  Use the Code, Bev

Kennel Cough
  Everybody Loves Barbeque    
2008:  Firestorm
2009:  Siena
2010:  The Last Entry
2011:  The Putah Creek Cafe
2012: What do the Siimple Folk Do?

Bitter Hack
: 6/26
"Wizard of Oz"

Books Read in 2013
 Updated: 6/30
"Understanding Dementia
and Caregiving for your Aging
Parents, A-Z"

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Weekend of Bri's Graduation

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mail to Walt


4 July 2013

Michael, who runs the Brain Gymnasium at Atria, apparently has an exercise that he does each week.  The group counts from one to 60, one person at a time.  Only if your number has a four sound in it (four, forty, etc.) or if it is a multiple of four, instead of saying your number, you say "medicare."

If your number has a seven or is a multiple of seven, you say "social security."

So it would go around the group...one, two, three, medicare, five, six, social security, etc. 

For numbers like 14 which have both a 4 and are multiples of 7 (or vice versa), you say "medicare and social security."

This is pretty tricky for people with old brains.  You have to remember where in the count the person before you is, you have to know the next number, and you have to figure out if it applies to either the 4 or 7 rule (or both).  The first time we played, last week, I messed up on 14, not realizing that I was to say both "medicare" and "social security."

It was already a difficult morning for my mother.  She really didn't want to go to the class at all, because she was already feeling "stupid" because she never knew the answers. But because I had come specifically to go with her (and now that I have been accepted by the class, to go for me too!) she came with me.

Michael always starts with a date question.  Today it was "what was the date four days before tomorrow."  This requires knowing what day it is today and then working the math back to four days before tomorrow...it also requires that you know that June has 30, not 31 days!  My mother had no clue what day it was today.  I reminded her that tomorrow was a holiday and she immediately knew that tomorrow was the 4th of July.  While she was figuring out what was 4 days before July 4, Michael was talking with Larry, who had written "June 31." 

By the time Michael came back to my mother, she not only did not have the answer, she also forgot that two seconds before she had figured out that tomorrow was 4th of July (and denied hotly that I had never helped her with that!), but she had no clue what four days before July 4 was.

She sat back in her chair in that "I'm gonna sit here but I'm not going to do a damn thing because I'm stupid and I'm embarrassed" attitude that she adopts.  You know--like a teenager.

Michael is great with her.  He stresses over and over again that this is not school, that there are no wrong answers, and that the purpose of the exercises is just to get you to exercise your brain.  The others in the class are also very supportive.  They have been coming, some of them, for years and they keep telling my mother that it gets better.

In fact, the young staff member, probably in her 20s, got the date question wrong too!

So then we started counting and I watched her struggle so hard, and become so dispirited because she couldn't remember what came after 14.  I watched her over and over, with Michael's guidance, trying to get the right answer and I just wanted to rush out of the room and cry.  At one point she said "you'd never know I was an accountant, would you?"

I watched and surreptitiously kept wiping away tears to prevent people from seeing that I was crying...and especially to keep my mother from seeing that I was crying. I hurt so much for her because I know how this must make her feel, and I know that she never wants to go to these classes again, but I also know how important they are for her, if she is going to slow down her mental decline at all.

The last group exercise we did was a grid with groups of 3 letters in each box.  TEB  RGI SAS HAW TVI LOU, etc.  When you combined the three letters with other groups of three (up to four groups), you ended up with a list of 10 states.  It was fairly easy for me, the hardest one being West Virginia, which showed up as TVI WES NIA and RGI (scattered throughout the other 3-letter groupings).  To my delight, my mother actually found EIGHT of the states.  And she was smiling.

At the end of the session, Michael stressed that the lesson he wanted her to take home was not to be so hard on herself.  She laughed, gave him her coy look, and agreed to do that.  But when he asked her again what the lesson was, she couldn't remember.

But she admitted on the walk back that she had a good time part of the time and when we got back to the apartment, she spent about 10 minutes (until I left) looking over this week's home play (not home "work" because that would be school) before she decided she wasn't going to do it.  Once again, I got the word part of the home play very easily, and can't for the life of me figure out how to do the math/spatial reasoning part of it.

Obviously this Brain Gymnasium is good for me too.  But next time I'll bring a couple of tissues in my pocket.

I brought her clothes home to wash again.  This time I will start adding back the clothes that she didn't recognize and took to the front desk to "give back" to whoever left them in her apartment.


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