In his working life, Harry, one of our volunteer game testers whom I’ve mentioned before, was in sales: owning his own company, traveling the world, and ultimately selling his company and retiring. If you’ve ever known someone in sales, you know it takes a lot of personal confidence. When I first met Harry, you could see that in him.
Even though his short-term memory and language have been hard-hit by Alzheimer’s, I contend that Harry still has excellent critical thinking skills that, whether he realizes it or not, are often the way he makes up for those other declining abilities, both in brain exercises and in real life. If he doesn’t know the answer outright (and he isn’t conning me!), he will reason his way through the question and, if not determine the exact right answer, at least make a solid educated guess.
Then again, sometimes I experience that salesmanship of his first-hand on, what I call, “lazy days” (when he doesn’t feel like giving the Dakin BrainFitness System his all). On days like this, he’ll confidently wield his considerable persuasion skills and, if I’m not on the ball, sometimes manage to wheedle the correct answer out of me so he doesn’t have to work for it!
Of course, there are also the days when his response to every memory game is to begin defiantly stabbing all the buttons without thinking about it. On those kinds of days, I know it’s because he’s feeling impatient, frustrated, or both.
It’s not his declining-versus-intact cognitive abilities that are always my biggest concern, though, because whatever kind of day he’s having, I have always known he still had a good deal of fight in him!
As Harry’s Alzheimer’s has progressed, however, it has been eking away at the confidence he once had in such abundance and relied on in his successful career. More recently, I have seen a growing uncertainty in him; uncertainty as to whether he actually knows the correct answer, can figure it out, or even understands the task before him.