The diabetes speaker went first. Who has been diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes, she wanted to know, and quite a few hands were raised. The complications from diabetes are many and quite severe, including depression, and we felt a little depressed just hearing about them all. As with most health issues, the message of exercise, weight control and healthy eating is stressed, and Diabetes New Zealand offer a huge amount of support, as does the Ministry of Health. Over 225,000 New Zealanders have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, and every day 50 more people are diagnosed with diabetes - is an epidemic in this country.
We joked between ourselves, wondering if the Alzheimers speaker would remember to come! Luckily she did, and gave us a very interesting talk on Alzheimers, Dementia and memory loss. There are lots of causes of memory problems, she stressed, so anyone worrying should get checked out by the doctor. Donna stressed that anything which impacts on your heart, such as those old bogeys of smoking, alcohol and being over-weight, can also impact on dementia. Keep the brain active, keep learning new things, and keep active, was her advice. Sadly, the older we get, the higher the risk. And that old wives tale of the having our family meals in earlier years cooked in aluminium pots causing Alzheimers has never been proven, she reassured us. That’s a relief, they were the only pots our family had when we were growing up.
Feeling really over the hill and not far away from the scrap heap, we made our way home. But the sight of the snow capped Tararua Ranges glistening in the wintery sunshine can always lift our spirits and cheer us up.
Back home, our beautiful Birman Muffy was curled up fast asleep and didn't even hear us return. Sadly, she has been diagnosed with Senile Vocalisation, a pussy cat version of forgetfulness and occasional confusion, and sometimes roams around the house getting lost. All we can do is keep her feeling happy, secure and loved in her twilight years.