At 59 years old, I think I’m very good with remembering names,
but I find it strange, and even interesting, how words evade me at times.
And sometimes, I must admit I find it funny and even… amusing!
Here’s an example:
This past summer, I was enjoying our family reunion with my cousins when the topic of scary movies came up in conversation.
I told my cousins that my mom took me to the scariest movie I have ever been to. In fact, it was the last time I would ever go to a scary movie in my life!
One cousin asked me, “Which movie was it?”
I responded, “Uh, you know, the really bad one that freaked everybody out. Oh, darn, what was it called!? It ended with ‘ist.’”
My cousins laughed and several blurted out simultaneously, “Oh, the Exorcist!”
Yes, that was the title I was searching for.
But, how funny to me that my mind could remember going to see this movie, along with the scenes that terrified me most, who played the main roles and yet, I could only remember the last 3 letters of the movie title at that moment!
I feel certain that within a short time it would have come to me. But, who’s going to table a conversation for 15 minutes while the mind sifts through old files, searching for the right word?
Knowing this is “normal” for my age helps me find the humor.
It takes a village to raise a child, but after 50+ years, it may take a village to finish a sentence!
If you are concerned about memory loss as you are trying to age gracefully, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. Diagnosis requires a full physical exam and several tests to really understand or know for sure what is going on.
An underlying medical or emotional disorder (depression, recent head trauma, sleep disorder, vitamin deficiency, alcoholism, hypothyroidism, as examples), if remedied, may make a big difference and relieve your concerns!
With age-related memory loss, you might sometimes forget the name of someone familiar to you, but recall it later in the day (or hour). And, you might misplace your glasses or keys at times. Perhaps lists are more helpful now, too. Still, age-related memory loss doesn’t disrupt your ability to be employed, get to work, live an independent life, or be social.
Here’s a quick and easy list by the Alzheimer’s Association:
Signs of Alzheimer’s/dementia
- Poor judgment and decision making
- Inability to manage a budget
- Losing track of the date or the season
- Difficulty having a conversation
- Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them
Typical age-related changes
- Making a bad decision once in a while
- Missing a monthly payment
- Forgetting which day it is and remembering later
- Sometimes forgetting which word to use
- Losing things from time to time
And, I also like referring to these following examples, adapted from “Diagnosis, Management and Treatment of Dementia: A Practical Guide for Primary Physicians,” published by the American Medical Association. (Note: I have added the italics for stress)
- Normal Aging: The person complains of memory loss but can provide considerable detail regarding incidents of forgetfulness.
- Dementia: The person complains of memory problems only if specifically asked and cannot recall instances when memory loss was noticeable.
- Normal Aging: The individual is more concerned about perceived forgetfulness than close family members are.
- Dementia: Close family members are much more concerned than the individual is about incidents of memory loss.
- Normal Aging: Recent memory for important events, affairs and conversations is not impaired.
- Dementia: Recent memory for events and ability to converse are both noticeably impaired.
- Normal Aging: The person has occasional difficulty finding words.
- Dementia: The person makes frequent word-finding pauses and substitutions.
So, how does this make YOU feel?
Do you worry about yourself as you are aging? Does the above relieve your worry?
Do you have a funny example of a lapse of memory you are willing to share?
Do you remember thinking about your loved one’s failing memory and wondering if it was dementia?