Fightingmyalz.com is a
Veteran-Owned site.

I have spent over a decade teaching myself how to build my web sites. Now it turns out that kind of effort is in itself may be a viable way to slow the progress of Alzheimer's.
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Work as Therapy

I’ve been straining my brain for years

Text and photos by Tom Hintz

Posted – 2-22-2013


I started doing my NewWoodworker.com web site over 12 years ago. When I began I had a basic understanding of computers and figured I could teach myself the site-building software. Thankfully computers and the software have become more user-friendly over the years because I do everything on all of my sites. I write the content, take and process the photos, shoot and edit the video, build the pages and structure the web sites. My understanding of the computers and software has grown substantially but both of those have also progressed at least a similar amount if not more over the same time period.

Over the years I developed a format for my building the stories for my sites that makes me more efficient in getting them done without leaving something out. I have an armada of computers in my office that are capable of doing what I need. That dependable functionality of the high-end software is something I greatly appreciate because it prevents re-doing work because a piece of software or a computer crashed as they used to do quite a bit.

Now, following my Alzheimer's diagnosis those habits and sequences make it easier to stay focused on the task at hand. When I get distracted by something else that comes up that structure makes it much easier for me to come back to a project and pick it up where I stopped. Eliminating the repeating of work already done or forgetting to include a step makes dealing with my work, even through the occasional fog of Alzheimer's, much easier. Reducing the frustration of any activity is a good thing with this disease.

Alzheimer's seems to get in the way more when I have to do something that is not required frequently. When I started FightingMyAlz.com I had to set up a new web site in Adobe Dreamweaver, the software I use and have been using for years. I have set up other sites with no real problem but this time around I was having issues with things I had done in the past. I was forgetting little parts of steps or how to do small things within that process that I had figured out before but could not recall now.

I also started learning to play guitar again after 30-some years off. That led to me recording my own music that you hear on my videos these days. I am way cheaper than buying rights to existing music!
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I find that I am less frustrated now when I encounter these stop blocks because I know it is likely the Alzheimer's that is at least partially behind the problem. Accepting what the disease does to my thought process is calming in a way. I can slow down, get more deliberate and work through the problem in a more logical way. I realize that I have not suddenly become an idiot and the cloud of confusion between the solution and me can be penetrated if I stay calm and take my time. Alzheimer's does not seem to affect the problem solving skills themselves if we just slow down and take a step back.

The good news is that these bouts with memory-related issues are most often short-lived. Usually within a few minutes I have found the problem and figured out a remedy. I realize that Alzheimer's is going to progress but I am hopeful that my work and other mind-exercising things I am doing will let me slow its advance appreciably.

I have known about my Alzheimer's for quite a while now and am buoyed by an email I received just a few weeks ago from a fellow who also runs a web site. He asked, “How do you produce so much material so quickly?”

That got me thinking that perhaps I am doing OK in this fight. It also makes me feel better every time I sit down at the computer to work on another story because I feel that I am doing something to help myself and that it is really making a difference. I may never know precisely how much of a difference but I really don’t care about that so much. I feel good about what I am doing now.

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All Fighting My Alzheimer's written, photographic and drawn materials are property of and copyright by Tom Hintz and NewWoodworker.com LLC 2013-2016. Materials may not be used in any way without the written permission of the owner.
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