If you want to rent a sailboat at the Community Sailing Center in Burlington you have to pass a test. A couple of days ago I visited this place just to look around, and I wound up sitting on a box, pencil in hand, about to face down a written Test. Now, for someone on the Dementia Continuum, the idea of a cognitive test of any kind is likely to be anxiety-producing. And, of course, experiencing anxiety, no matter what the source, is virtually guaranteed to lead to more anxiety, which then leads to more of the same with a resulting weakened cognitive function. Somehow, the conversation had got a little ahead of me, and that must have been when I agreed to give the Test a shot. Luckily, I didn’t yet know the protocol where you are only allowed to take the test once, and if you fail, you have to take some kind of a remedial course.
Countering my stress was a certain confidence in my sailing experience. I had just calculated that I had first “sailed,” i.e. ridden in a small sailboat, exactly 60 years ago, and learned to sail on my own a year or two later. Since then I think I have sailed more summers than I haven’t. Mostly, I was going by the theory that, like riding a bike, once you know to do it, you just don’t forget.
Countering my confidence has been the stress of the past few years of unpredictably forgetting all kinds of things. The concept of “Things You Just Don’t Forget,” now seems more quaint than unassailable.