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Geri-Antics: The Ramblings of a Crazy Old Broad

As seniors, we’ve all heard discussions regarding dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Sadly, many of us have watched as parents, friends or loved ones have sunk into the abyss that is typified at first by gradual loss of memory until such time as the disease usurps reality and ultimately total loss of self.

I think many of us over the age of 60 will admit to wondering if failing recall might be a symptom of one of these dreaded diseases.

As a preventative measure, I’ve taken to challenging my mind with puzzles, quizzes and memorization games in an attempt to keep my brain sharp and active. 

There are any number of benign causes for lack of focus or short-term memory loss, not the least of which is lack of interest. If a topic doesn’t interest me, I’ll likely not give it 100 percent of my attention or enthusiasm.

Dates have never been my strong suit.  I’ve always had trouble remembering dates even as a child. Maybe there’s a short-circuit in my brain, a sort of computer glitch.

I compensate by carrying a notepad at all times. I write down all important events and appointments. Although I must admit sometimes I forget to enter them on my calendar and set reminder alarms which basically negates the purpose of carrying a notepad altogether. 

Another possible cause of forgetfulness might be explained by the theories on left-brain/right-brain dominance. People whose left brains are dominant tend to be logical, systematic, analytical and linear. Left-brained individuals see the world around them as stationary. Or clear-cut and black and white.

The right side of my brain is not only dominant but it’s absolutely who I am. Right-brained individuals are creative, artistic and extremely emotional. We’re the empaths, the dreamers. Not only is our world static but we see life in vivid colors. In fact, we are often the painters who give the world its color.

If you want total recall, ask me the lyrics to a rock and roll song from the 1960s. Ask me where I was and what I was doing at precisely 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 22, 1963, when the news that President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been assassinated came across the newswire. I have no problem recalling every detail of things that impact me personally or emotionally.

I choose to believe the times when I forget why I entered a room are the times when my brain is the most active, and there are many.

My thoughts may be running the gamut from character development for a book I’m writing to any number of household chores, errands, appointments or when to give my aging dog her hormone pill.

I’m simply on overload, but if I force my body and my mind to be still, I’ll usually remember why I came.

Should you simply mislay your keys or cell phone, or if like me, you forget why you entered a room, there’s likely a logical reason for your momentary memory lapse.

However, if you go for a walk in a familiar neighborhood and lose your way home, or have difficulty recognizing a close friend or family member, or find you are having difficulty finding the right words to convey a simple sentence, I urge you to share your concerns with a loved one and with your physician.

Sometimes, medication or even simple mental exercises can help. Cognitive testing can help assess the proper course of treatment and can make your quality of life and that of those around you much more satisfying.

Wishing you health, happiness and peace of mind in the new year!

Anne Carmichael is a lifestyle columnist who submits monthly to the Jessamine Journal.