Not Losing My Mind by Erin Farwell

IMG_3021_1I recently learned that I carry a gene for early onset Alzheimer’s. While this was startling news, it wasn’t devastating as I know that it is not a diagnosis, simply knowledge that my chances of having this disease are slightly greater than that of the general population.

I am also a firm believer that knowledge is power. So I now take a lot of high quality fish oil, eat lots of veggies, and exercise more frequently. All this is healthy for my body and my brain so it’s all good. Pretty much.

The problem with this knowledge is that life is life. I have always had a great memory but, since experiencing menopause, it isn’t as good as it used to be. I’ve been told that my mind will be back to normal as hormones Memory-Healer-Review-2balance out, but in the mean time I’ve become frustrated that words on the tip of my tongue tend to stay there. I find myself walking into a room and hoping, if I stay there long enough, I’ll remember what I came in there for. Schedules have to be written down rather than live in my head. With the new health information, I now wonder if a brain blip is caused by hormone fluctuations or something more serious. I know, deep down, that I’m fine but at the same time there is this little extra worry that wears me down.

In an effort to improve overall brain-related stuff, I decided to try Lumosity – a website with games designed to increase mental functions. My initial test was rather embarrassing and I ranked really, really low compared to others on the site within my age group. I reminded myself that this was the point, to know where I am and to get better.

I’ve been on the site for almost three months now and I have shown great improvement in every category, except one: problem solving. I find this odd as I have always thought of myself as a great problem solver. When I review my rankings against others in my group, I am in the 73rd to 86th percentiles with comments like “You’re doing well” and “You’re a force to be reckoned with!” Then we get to problem solving. I haven’t broken the 37th percentile. Seriously. The comment there is: Keep trying.

I am trying. I blame my poor score on a game where you’re packing a suitcase and can’t let the camera get squished when the bag closes. My camera is always getting squished. It’s the only game that I haven’t moved up a single level in 3 months. You’d think bspeedPack_icon_mediumy now I’d get it right. How hard could this be? Apparently, for me, really, really hard. So now, in addition to having this Alzheimer’s issue hanging over my head, I am on a mission to pack that stupid camera in the dang suitcase without breaking it.

On the plus side, my general memory processes have improved. I don’t stumble for words as much as I had in recent months and, overall, things seem to be getting back to normal. My profile says that people with my scores are often in art and design. Hmmm. Maybe what I’ve considered good problem solving skills all these years was really just a type of creativity.

I consider myself lucky to live in a time when genetic information is available. Rather than focus on what might be, I use this information to support my physical and mental health. By changing my lifestyle, I increase my odds of avoiding Alzheimer’s. And maybe I’ll get that camera packed without squishing it.

You can learn more about me at:

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15 thoughts on “Not Losing My Mind by Erin Farwell

  1. I think writing books and articles is great exercise for our minds. I’m 63 now and I know my brain isn’t as sharp as it once was. Like you, I find that I can’t always call up memories… they remain just beyond grasp. There was a time when I was very good playing Jeopardy. Not any more.


  2. I empathize with you Erin. Since I was around forty I began losing words. Pretty embarrassing when you are in the middle of a conversation and have to go the long way around so people don’t realize it’s happening. When I asked my doctor she said is was a sign of the thyroid disease I’ve had since my thirties. I’ve always been an avid reader, a Scrabble nut, and love crossword puzzles and picture puzzles. So, I began to include those things in my everyday life. It’s not so much that I’ve seen a huge difference but that I am doing as much as I can to help my memory stay sharp. And, don’t worry too much about the gene. My mother died of Ovarian Cancer in her fifties. Supposedly my sisters and I carry the gene. Mom died at age 56 and we are all past that point so we breathe a little easier. All you can do is live your life, eat right, keep your brain activated and breathe deep. Good luck!


  3. Brilliant! Proud of you for taking care of yourself. By the way, if you’ve ever played The Sims game, there’s a joke that applies. When you enter a room and forget why you went it, it’s God canceling your action. So, it’s not your fault! Ha ha.


  4. You’re getting a head start! I’ve always expected to have it since my dad’s family is full of it. I found out I don’t have the gene (which doesn’t mean I won’t get it), but my husband has been diagnosed. With the good meds he’s on, he may keep driving and volunteering and going at 3/4-7/8 for a long time.

    I’m doing Luminosity, too. The memory matrix and the pinballs? Ugh!! But I am getting better at some of them.

    Hubby has a wonderful attitude toward this. (I’m trying to.) I wish you the best for many, many years to come!


  5. Knowledge is power, but also responsibility. How we use and relate to that knowledge is what allows us our humanity. The one thing I have learned in this life, some people will do things better than myself, but I will do other things better than them. It all balances.

    Hang in there, your uniqueness is what makes you, you and that is pretty special. Doris


  6. Doris is right, some people do some things better than me, but I do some things better than other people. I think I’ve always forgotten minor things, but remembered the big ones, am I getting worse, or am I just noticing it more. I think even younger members in our families notice it more on older people because they expect it. I lose my coffee cup a couple of times a morning (I carry it around with me). I think, with me, I’m trying to get more done now and the back of my mind is working on one thing while I’m trying to talk about something else and then I forget what I’m saying. LOL But I like Downright Uptight’s answer the best. Fortunately,my husband knows what I’m trying to say and finishes it for me. I wouldn’t worry too much about the alzheimer’s test (even though I worry about the disease myself), just be happy. They find cures for diseases everyday. Cher’ley


  7. Great post, Erin. You are using the information wisely. I haven’t had the test, but, given my sister, I worry myself about the disease. I did the free version of Lumosity, but I never actually signed up for it. I probably should. I did enjoy the games that I played. 🙂 Given the kind of novels you write, I would think you are pretty good at solving (and creating 🙂 ) problems.


  8. I am always so relieved when I am around a young person who forgets what they are going to say or what they were doing. I have noticed my multi-tasking ability is not so good anymore, and words for me also take a long time to rise to the surface sometimes. Am not sure if I want to know if my genes can take me places I don’t want to go. Am mentally preparing myself for dementia, while hoping it never comes. I see it in too many people I know. You are very brave to be tested. But, still, you don’t know you’ll get it, and sounds like the knowledge just made you step up to what is good to do anyway. Writing should help all of us too, and what a blessing for each of us who desire to write. Your writing is great, and obviously I could relate to this blog! Thanks for sharing.


  9. My husband is often to be heard saying ‘nouns!’ when I don’t seem to remember the word that’s ont he tip of my tongue. I’m kind of relieved, but also sympathetic, that it happens to others and yet doubly glad because I’ve always had a very poor long term memory. It’s good tto know that the bulk of your strategies are working, Erin.


  10. I can SO RELATE, Erin! My memory slips a lot more than it used to. I had a grandmother with Alzheimer’s and so I wonder about my own future. It’s a bit frightening, but I also trust that God knows my future and has me in the palm of His hand. I for one am thankful this world is not our home and one day all things will be made right — including our bodies and minds. I admire you for doing good things for yourself, both mentally and physically — you are an inspiration and as Doris said, a very special lady!


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