A concrete relationship

Lately I’ve been cementing a close relationship with concrete – not that I enjoy hitting the hard stuff. But it is  becoming more of an  unwelcome habit.  But how and why are we such pals at all?

Well there’s gravity, we all know that. Perhaps falling is the new thing in old age though we did it often enough  – another universe call Youth. And we  don’t consider ourselves old, for  baby boomers are the Peter Pans of the world. Could  it be something as trivial as a loss of balance? That would account for a number of  stumbles and falls accompanied by the kind  of commonplace grazes and bruises we wore as badges when  we were kids. And then there’s rationalising – always at hand when you want to explain away  an issue (today’s  trendy  word for problem).

Rationalisation leads us down a gentle slope to forgetfulness. It allows us to take refuge in its familiar comforts, despite the fact that we walk into rooms and have no idea why. Or how a perfectly sensible woman one day mistook a white bleach container for a plastic milk bottle – and put it in the fridge….

Others have been stumped by something they’ve habitually done for years – punching what they think are  the right numbers on their house security keypad.  But numbers can be unforgiving, didn’t count this temporary amnesia – and so set off the house alarm.

Forgetfulness is forgivable, a state of mind, a field which can be ploughed to retrieve temporarily lost moments.  But what if it’s more than just that? What if it’s the  condition we’ve read about and seen for ourselves in  secure wards; the one which makes  strangers of loved ones.

What’s a fall or two when compared to indignities of the inmates there?  That’s  when we realise that our occasional forgetfulness is  not so much minor but laughable,  and that the word which haunts us most is  Dementia, a plague in waiting.

  • Dementia in New Zealand is serious. At least 70,000 Kiwis are living with it now according to Statistics New Zealand, Dementia New Zealand and the Alzheimer’s Society.


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Paul Smith

Paul is a veteran journalist, non-fiction author and writing mentor. He has also served on boards ranging from TVNZ to UNESCO.