Second wind: Now, what was I saying?
Blanking out. It happens – those senior moments when what you know you know goes AWOL.
There’s the Lite Senior Moment – as in: What was the name of that movie where John Wayne was in Ireland and he had the big fight? These are the tiny private forgettings.
And then there are the Bad Senior Moments. Bad Senior Moments are usually public and turn your face red. It’s when you forget the code for the ATM machine and there’s a long line in back of you waiting to get money.
But relax, please. Blanking out happens and it probably happened all your life, but it’s when you are an older adult that society takes notice. We name and shame the forgetting: Gary Geezer is having a senior moment, poor thing.
But to keep things in perspective, didn’t you have TeenMoments when you couldn’t remember the names of people at the party or you forgot who fought the Punic Wars or you totally spaced out on the time you were supposed to be home?
Sometimes I think older people are too worried about their little mental lapses. They imagine a big, bad diagnosis on the horizon when they forget where they put the car keys. However, they have always forgotten where they put the car keys.
But if you forget where you put the car, that’s another story – except in a big mall or an airport parking lot, where everybody of every age forgets where the car is.
Tips and tricks
Here are some common senior moments and a few ways to compensate:
Someone asks you a question and you know you should know but you don’t.
In this situation, you say – “I’ll get back to you on that.” Or you say: “I need to look that one up in my files.” One friend says his memory bank is down right now, but he’ll know the answer as soon as his brain is back online.
You can’t remember people’s names, especially when you meet them out of the usual context. Other than passing a law requiring people to have their names tattooed on their foreheads, we can simply tell the truth: my mind is blank.
If you see this memory glitch happening to others, be kind and tell them your name.
You cannot remember what you are supposed to do when.
Most of us handle this with a date book and with written lists. I find making a list on a large Post-It note and sticking it in my datebook keeps me from losing the list. But what happens when you lose your datebook or the tech device you may now use as a calendar/reminder list instead?
Unless you’ve made back-ups, you are up memory lane without a paddle.
But your cell phone should have the numbers that were in your datebook. And I keep a teeny address book stuck in my wallet so if I lose the bigger address book, there’s a backup. My man, Kranky Pants, keeps two datebooks, one in a briefcase and one on the desk, so if either floats off into Never-Never Land, he has the other.
What he and I have to remember is to co-ordinate our calendars. Catching up with each other on Sunday mornings works for us. That’s after a Saturday night when he thought we were going to a concert and I thought we were going over to a friend’s house for dinner. Simultaneous senior moments – one of the deep thrills of aging.
And then there’s another common dilemma, perhaps the one that makes us feel most foolish:
You go in a room and can’t remember why.
This is when you just say the hell with it and walk out again. If it was important, your brain will let you know.
Words for the wise
Sorry, I forgot. Give me a minute.
The author of four non-fiction books, gerontologist Mel Walsh has a new book of advice for the 50+ woman: “Hot Granny,” published by Chronicle Books. Write firstname.lastname@example.org. More info at http://www.melwalsh.com.
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