I've had nothing to write about for the past while. Well, nothing I thought would be of interest, that is. Either to me, or to you. I even wondered if perhaps I was done blogging?
I could of course have regaled you with my recent flurry of friend meet-ups. You see, while I may not have been active on social media sites of late I have been very busy partaking in real life social events. It's been quite the mix of catching up with friends from all walks of my life thus far. From a school pal to more local ones, from ex-work colleagues to my show pals, a family party and a blogger meet-up with Looking For Blue Sky and Bright Side of Life! There was even a recent sneaky five-day, bi-generational, trip to Lanzarote, for heaven's sake! A total of nine very mindful and alert septuagenarian mothers and their daughters. Sadly, due to circumstances I was the lone daughter. That aside, it's been so much fun.
My friends are important to me though and it's not always appropriate to share. So, what would it take to get me back to the world of blogging then?
Surprisingly enough it's Angela Rippon, the former newscaster, dancer and presenter of the original - before it went all 'Strictly' - 'Come Dancing', who has turned out to be my catalyst.
I watched her programme The Truth About Dementia on BBC1 last night. This is never an easy documentary subject to watch; especially not straight after your visit to a loved-one affected by this disease. However, the usual sad stories aside, I was hooked.
There was the terribly sad story of the elderly lady coping, at the age of 85, with being a carer to her elderly husband. Watching him slowly slipping away from her.....
There was the devastatingly dreadful tales from an unrelated young man and woman, both in their 30's with early on-set Alzheimers in their families. Both have a 50:50 chance of developing this disease and both are parents of young children. The man is already showing the signs. The woman doesn't want to know whether or not she has the gene, but she has written a letter to her possible future carers just in case. I actually, totally get that. Heart wrenching stuff.
Angela tells us that it is now believed that, as we age, more people are more concerned about getting Alzheimers/Dementia than cancer.
I have seen both diseases ravish a being and I get it, really I do.
There were some positives contained in this documentary though, and ideas on how to train and work-out our brains to help combat the onset of this awful disease.
We saw the fantastic former GP, functioning with her dementia, who teaches a regular 'Japanese Memory' workshop. We 'traveled' to another community in the States where a doctor regularly assesses these elderly people for this disease. And we met Millie, a centenarian who has to date passed these tests and keeps in touch with her family by email! This elderly community, or some of them at least, have agreed to donate their brains when they pass on. We saw pictures of a healthy brain, one with some damage where the patient had dementia and, shockingly, a brain that looked ravished in comparison but where the patient had no outward signs. Amazing.
We learned that learning a language can delay the onset of Alzheimers/Dementia by four years. That's more than any drug currently on the market can do.
Although not quite fully understood we also learned how important a role sleep has to play. Scientists researching this field have discovered that in mice their brains get 'washed out' when they sleep.
All of which as a rampant insomniac, and someone who has Alzheimers/Dementia in her family, I find a little worrying. That said, Angela's parents both had Alzheimers, she reckons, and the tests she had done revealed that, at 71, she's no more at risk than anyone else.
We should not of course forget the importance of the 'Three R's - reading, writing and arithmetic - when training our brains.
I don't do much on the arithmetic side of things really and I got to thinking. What can I do to help myself? Perhaps through the following I'm already doing it......
- It may be mainly the genre of thrillers but I am an avid reader.
- Until recently I was a regular blogger. Thereby encompassing the creative, writing, editing and a myriad of computer and other solving skills necessary to keep that show on the road.
- Exercise is a regular part of my week. Gyming, swimming and Pilates.
- Dancing. I have nothing to substantiate this but, speaking as a dancer, the skills needed to process and retain dance steps, transfer them from brain to feet and to co-ordinate all limbs simultaneously has to be of cognitive benefit! As does the plotting and planning skills required in choreographing shows. Although I haven't done a lot of the latter recently, a fact I need to rectify.
- Knitting and crocheting. Especially if, like me, you need a pattern. Patterns can be completed things to process, you know. And I like to continually challenge myself with ever more complicated projects.
- Mock as you may but the world of Candy Crush Saga and Soda can, in my mind, also be of at least some cognitive benefit!
I guess I need to increase my levels in all of the above, to push my mental acuity boundaries.
I need to learn a language. Spanish, perhaps?
I need to continue with my flurry of friend meet-ups!
And in the words of Bruce Forsyth, another '(Strictly') Come Dancing' presenter, I need to:
Is there anything you can do to train your brain?