Lee St. John, a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, is a No.1 Amazon ranked humorous author. Look for her on Facebook, Twitter (@LeeStJohnauthor), and her blog at www.leestjohnauthor.com. Her new release, “SHE’S A KEEPER! Cockamamie Memoirs from a Hot Southern Mess” can be found on Amazon.com.

I turned 66 last week and last year gave myself the gift of Medicare. It’s the gift that keeps on giving as I’ve used it quite a bit this past year and especially this past week. Long story, but thank goodness it wasn’t my writing hand and I can still type.
I haven’t had to jump through any cognitive hoops yet. But I have some much older friends who have. These women get together on Wednesdays for their weekly bridge group. It’s a neighborhood group and was founded by one of the oldest member about 25 years ago.
It’s a very close knit group because after all meeting every week for 25 years for Kitchen Bridge, they tend to be able to chat and learn about each other in a casual setting rather than in Duplicate Bridge where no talking is allowed. Kitchen Table Bridge (sometimes called party bridge or rubber bridge) is one method of playing ‘contract bridge’ and allows the players to visit and talk with the players at your table.
Whereas, Duplicate Bridge is highly competitive and once the bidding has begun, general conversation is not encouraged at the table. Bridge etiquette in duplicate allows you to exchange pleasantries with partner and the opponents, but during play there should not be any discussion of the hands. One should wait until the game is over for the post-mortems.
A plus to the talkative group is that they are able to exchange information about their families, their health, their doctors, and such. Which is what happened recently. This bridge group of at least twenty ladies are all over the age of 65 except for a couple of gals. Early detection of Alzheimer’s is important and yet the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America announce that general practitioners currently miss about 50 percent of dementia cases. So there is now an annual free Medicare wellness exam that includes cognitive memory tests to help increase the rate of early diagnosis of dementia which is included in the wellness check-up.
Overheard recently at bridge –
“Oh, Millie, I so wish I didn’t have to take that test when I visit my general practitioner for my yearly wellness exam. He asks me to read aloud from the list and then waits until the end of the exam to ask me to recite them again from memory. I become so nervous when I am supposed to recite the nouns, in order. I know I am forgetful in many areas, but these words have no relevance to me to help me remember. I mean, ‘monkey, basketball, stool, doorknob, giraffe, and palm tree’?
“Eudora, you go to my doctor, too, right?” Millie asks.
“I go to him,” interrupted Phyllis. “I have had that same test with those same words, too. I get being nervous, Millie. I shouldn’t be but I feel like if I fail it will be recorded in my file, so I stay nervous the entire time and when I get nervous, I can’t think!”
Eudora chimes in, “Ladies, looks like we all go to the same physician so we need to devise a plan to conquer our fear of this test. Phyllis says she remembers it’s the same words that Millie was tested on. What if our doctor is giving us all the same words? I believe he does!”
“I know,” says Millie. “Whoever has the first appointment with him for next year should come back and tell us what the words were so the rest of us can be prepared and we will rotate who goes first each year so the rest of us can reciprocate the next time. Want to?”
And because they did, “The women starting receiving 100 percent on their tests for the next several years.”
And to think it all started with Kitchen Table Bridge. If it had been Duplicate Bridge, they never would have hatched this plan.