I have always forgotten things. (Fred MacMurray in the Absent Minded Professor was one of my role models.) And I can still remember the sinking feeling when I had forgotten my appointment for a haircut or to pick up the kids after school. I would kick myself in the pants, but I never thought more about it. But now when I forget something, I start imagining every set of lost keys or forgotten name is one more sign that my memory is riding that downhill slide to total oblivion. I don’t know if you have the same experience, but I find it a little bit scary. And it doesn’t’ help that my mother died from Alzheimer’s. (But there is one good sign. I do remember how to spell Alzheimer’s!)
Normal forgetfulness such as absentmindedness, forgetting names or those tip-of-the-tongue moments are common at any age and are not serious memory problems. A more serious concern is dementia; a set of symptoms including impairment in memory, reasoning, judgment, language and other thinking skills.
According to the Mayo Clinic website, some early signs of dementia may include: asking the same questions repeatedly, forgetting common words when speaking, mixing words up - saying "bed" instead of "table", taking longer to complete familiar tasks, misplacing items in inappropriate places - putting a wallet in a kitchen drawer, getting lost while walking or driving around a familiar neighborhood, or undergoing sudden changes in mood or behavior for no apparent reason.
If you find this is happening to you or if you know someone who is exhibiting these signs, a doctor should be consulted. There are many other causes for memory lapses that can be treated and they should be ruled out first: severe stress, depression, a vitamin B12 deficiency, insufficient sleep, some prescription drugs and infections.
In the meantime, for us who experience normal forgetfulness, there are ways to help keep our minds sharp. Stay engaged with friends and family, volunteer, reduce your stress, keep your mind active, get lots of rest, exercise and eat well.
You can learn more about dementia and memory loss at the Center’s next 11:00 Tuesday lecture on February 10th. Colleen Ballinger, from Hospice of the Gorge, will discuss in more detail the differences between normal forgetfulness and dementia, what some of the treatable causes of memory loss are, and how caregivers can cope.
The Planetree Resource Center always offers an excellent series of free spring lectures on health related topics that are open to the public. This year there are three that may be of particular interest to older adults: “Living with Chronic Pain and the Tools for Management” on February 17th, “This Aging Body” on March 3rd, and “Could You Repeat That? Hearing Loss and Prevention” on March 10th. The lectures are held at Water’s Edge from 7pm to 8:30pm. For more information or to register call 541-296-8444 or visit the MCMC website.
Donzella Schlager and I will be attending the GoRed for Women’s Heart Health event at the Civic this Friday from 11:00 – 2:00 to share information about the activities at the Center. So after your massage and bowl of soup, stop by and say hello.
On Saturday March 14th the Center will be taking a bus load of twenty folks to Portland to see the matinee performance of “Guys and Dolls”. Tickets are $75 including transportation, and can be purchase at the Center.
For the Tuesday Night Music and Dance at the Center on February 10th, Martin and Friends will be performing. Doors open at 6:00 and the music starts at 7:00. All ages are welcome and donations are always appreciated.
The name of the translucent pink styling gel with a unique smell and gelatinous consistency was Dippity-Do. (And the winner of a free Cherry Festival Breakfast is Carol Parker.)
From 1922 to 1944, producer Hal Roach created a series of 221 short comedy films about a group of poor neighborhood children called “Our Gang” which he later repackage in the 1950’s as “The Little Rascals”. For this week’s “Remember When” question, what was the name of the boy in the series known for his trademark pointed cowlick? E-mail your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org, call 541-296-4788 or drop it off with a picture of Darla - his romantic interest.
Well, it’s been another week, trying figure out what I’ll do when I grow up. Until we meet again, as John Barrymore once said, “Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open.”
“God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December.” James M. Barrie