I have embraced the term “creeping dementia,” which I discovered in an Irish novel a few years ago. I embrace many things I discover in books. “Creeping dementia” functions for me as many things do in my family. We like to be flippant about dire things, the blacker the humour the better. My sister and I once sat in a hospital emergency room at 3:00 a.m. entertaining ourselves with comments on the general clientele one finds in a hospital emergency room at 3:00 a.m. Creeping dementia, as a term, seems to me to be a gentle reminder that things go missing in the brain with greater regularity as said brain ages. But even as I acknowledge that it happens, I resist that it happens. I also have embraced activities to stave off creeping dementia.
My mother was devoted to crossword puzzles and very late in her life still beat me at Scrabble. I have taken to crosswords as part of my morning, just to shake my brain awake. I never thought I’d enjoy them, partly because, as a perfectionist, I didn’t like the erasing and writing over and smudges on the page, the unfinished evidence. But online puzzles, free online puzzles, spare me those aggravations. Once I click away, there is no proof of my groping for a correct answer, and in some cases, puzzles with scores and timers, I can enjoy those measures of success. It isn’t easy being a determined perfectionist.
There’s also freerice.com. I can exercise my vocabulary, encounter words I have never seen before, identify geographical locations, match flags with nations, and so on, staving off creeping dementia for free. And, while I do it, a rice bowl is filling with ten grains of free rice for every correct answer. This rice costs me nothing because the ads on the site pay for the rice. After years of being a casual user, I created an account (free) and discovered more variety in the questions. I solve, companies advertise, people eat–it’s a beautiful thing.
Every day, I use words devotedly. I read, I write, I organize, I communicate, I puzzle. I love words. Love what they can do. Words are powerful things. They are among my greatest friends. They understand me. I don’t want to lose them.