According the AARP, I have dementia

Here are the the seven signs you have it, too…

Here’s one: according to the AARP, I have dementia.

One of the many benefits of being an AARP member (which I joined for the discounts, but am too embarrassed to admit so I don’t ever get any discounts) is receiving regular emails from the AARP that scare the crap out of you.

Lots of warnings about scams, health problems and dying, which is not recommended even though it will solve every problem you ever had.

The AARP’s most recent scaremail was “Seven Warning Signs a Loved One May Have Dementia” and here they are.

1. Difficulty with everyday tasks

My car gets washed once a winter at most, so I guess I got this one covered. I was born without whatever gene makes people do things out of duty – which is pretty much how the Nazis came to power and who wants to go through that again – so if a task bores me (and most tasks do) I avoid it.

If someone suggests I shovel my walk after a snowstorm that’s the first step toward fascism and since I’m a red-blooded American I refuse to do any work someone else tells me I ought to do and instead exercise my God-given right to lay on my couch and watch football instead.

In my opinion that’s a sign I’m normal, but according to the Brownshirts in the AARP that’s a sign I have dementia, so I guess they win Round One on a technicality.

2. Repetition

According the AARP medical experts, telling the same story multiple times is another sign of dementia.

Hell, I’ve told the same story so many times all the rough spots have been smoothed down and I could walk into any comedy club in the USA or Canada, tell the “How I Dropped My Brother Off a Mountain” story and get a laugh. It would also go over big in Mexico and certain parts of Finland if I could get a translator with a sense of humor.

It’s called “material” people, not dementia, but if the AARP is going to insist, yup I do this, too.

Two for two.

3. Communication problems

Another sign that a loved one has gone Coo-Coo for Cocoa Puffs is abruptly stopping in the abruptly in the middle of a thought because they can’t remember a word. Heck, I remember too many words and sometimes my drain gets clogged up when they all try to leave my mouth at the same time.

So far I’m three for three.

4. Getting lost

Apparently, one of things to look for in an elderly person is “spatial problems” which I thought meant that thing when you get behind an old person in a grocery store aisle and their inner gyroscope creates a path so wobbly and meandering that they keep blocking you from getting past them even though the aisle is 15 feet wide.

And they seem to have no sense that someone is six inches behind them trying to get by which is part of why old people got eaten first by dinosaurs and saber tooth tigers.

But it seems the AARP meant spatial problems in the “where the hell am I?” sense which means the old person in question probably still has a flip phone and no access to Google Maps which can tell you how to get to your bathroom when you get up in the middle of the night to use the commode which is a really strange word for “toilet” although I just looked up the meaning of “commodious” which means “convenient” and that means commode isn’t as a strange a word as I thought when I started this sentence.

And I just now realized I have taken a wobbly, meandering literary path and I’m blocking the people who just want to get by and make it to the end of this column.

Damn: four for four.

5. Personality changes

Another dementia symptom is changes in personality and getting easily upset and I was going to deny this one, but then remembered yelling at my TV when the Kansas City Chiefs lost a game because apparently it is now an NFL rule violation to employ defensive backs who know how to tackle.

Hell, we tackled better than that in high school and my high school football team sucked. I would keep going on about this for another graph or two, but it’s time to put on my Bermuda shorts, black, knee-high socks, go out on my porch and yell at the kids on my lawn – which means I’m really a mess because I don’t have a porch.

What’s that now; five for five?

6. Confusion about time and place

The AARP warns us we should be on the lookout for an elderly person who is disoriented and asks, “How did I get here?”

I ask that question every damn day.

All it takes is one look in the mirror at my hair which has so little color it will soon be transparent or having to bend over farther each year to see the bathroom scales because my stomach keeps getting in the way.

I used to be an athlete; how did I get here?

Six for six…dammit.

7. Troubling behavior

The final sign of dementia is troubling behavior and as I once told the editor of the Kansas City Star, I’ve been in trouble all my life and it never seemed all that bad.

Apparently, I have had dementia since I was seventeen and thought it was funny to put a drawing of a turkey giving the finger to a pilgrim on the cover of the Thanksgiving edition of my high school newspaper which made people laugh, but also got me suspended.

And there was that pep rally that wound up with me and a buddy chugging beers in front of everybody including the teachers and principal which – while being a crowd-pleaser – wound up in another suspension.

Finally, the day we graduated we were told to write down our names and give them to the guy announcing them as we walked across the stage to get our diplomas and my scrap of paper said my name was “Herkum D. Judge.” They couldn’t suspend me again because by the time the P.A. announcer said it I’d already been handed my diploma.

So, yeah, I guess I’ve got to admit to the troubling behavior symptom even though I think I ought to get brownie points for a lifetime of consistency.

That’s seven for seven which – if you keep it up – will get you into Cooperstown or tied to a retirement home bed.


If a loved one – and I don’t love anybody more than me – exhibits signs of dementia the AARP offers a lot of expensive-sounding medical advice like lab tests, brain scans and visits to neurologists.

But to hell with that; now that I’ve accepted that I have the symptoms I’m going to enjoy them.

Which means I’m no longer responsible for remembering birthdays, your spouse’s name or what day it is and if I wind up out on my lawn wearing nothing but a pith helmet, snow shoes and boxer briefs yelling about lousy tackling by my favorite football team, it’s not my fault.

I have dementia.

P.S. If you’re one of those people who have a two-by-four up your backside and want to make sure everyone else is just as miserable as you are by saying, “That’s not funny and you shouldn’t joke about it…my uncle has dementia” here’s a clip of Joan Rivers’ classic response to that kind of thinking:

As Joan said later, she’d make jokes in a concentration camp: “You have two choices: laugh or die.”


I’m going out laughing.