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Photo by Aaron Andrew Ang on Unsplash

If we’re lucky and live long enough, most of us will experience a level of forgetfulness that is one of the hallmarks (and major annoyances) of old age. It starts slowly — a name, a birthday, your anniversary, your children’s names … Alzheimer’s Anxiety Syndrome follows. Pretty soon we see those Missing Elderly signs on the highway and wonder if that could soon be us.

Then our children start asking whether GPS implants are covered by Medicare.

Lessons for remembering started early in our lives, particularly if we had parents who insisted on it. If you left the needed textbook in your school locker — well, better start hoofing it back to school. Forgot your lunch money? Then hope you had good friends who’d share their lunch with you. If we were lucky, the lessons were well-taught and well-learned, and served us throughout our lives. Many of us have been quite proud of our good memories.

Forgetfulness in old age feels like failure, and at some level perhaps even dangerous. It’s scary. The age of forgetfulness can be disconcerting. But maybe we could learn to enjoy the ride and the little joke that the universe is playing on us. Besides, there really isn’t much we can do about it (other than perhaps working crossword puzzles or studying quantum mechanics).

To diminish stress and improve enjoyment in our later years, perhaps we can learn to accept how things are. Some things we old farts might consider doing:

  • Simplify your life. Do one thing at a time and do it slowly. Leave plenty of time to forget and re-remember. It’s easier to remember what you’re doing when it’s only one thing.

There are many rewards to be garnered from old age forgetfulness. Perhaps most importantly, memory loss allows us to focus on the here and now — and on the way things are as opposed to the way they should be. It’s the youngsters who should focus on the way things should be — with appropriate guidance from their elders of course.

I knew there was something else I wanted to add to this, but I’ve forgotten it.

Written by

Retired engineer; former university faculty; sometime statewide political candidate; part-time raconteur and provocateur.

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