Forgetfulness is one of the most bothersome aspects of growing older—the assumption that absent-mindedness is the first sign of mental decline among older citizens. Let me offer a different perspective.
Many older adults are just a little slower on the uptake. When asked cognitive questions, codgers like me may take a split second longer to respond. Are my neurons firing at slower speeds, or is less blood available to my brain? Here’s another possibility: Given the decades of experience and knowledge crammed into my cranium, it may take me a bit longer to select from a very large store of interconnected memories to provide the best response. What appears to be a deficit might instead be a sign of cognitive depth!
Or how about the niggling behavior of leaving items behind? In the minds of some folks, this kind of forgetfulness is a sure sign that Old Dad is not as sharp as he used to be. Another possibility: When you’re older, you have to be mindful of more items that are necessary for navigating modern society.
Heading out the door, I check my pockets for my cellphone, wallet, keys, pens and comb. It’s also necessary for me to put in my hearing aids, take along the sunglasses that protect my eyes, find a baseball cap to keep the sun off my head, tuck away some facial tissues for allergies, fold up a spare mask and clean the COVID-mask fog off my glasses. If it’s raining, I must also remember my umbrella and the protective case for those hearing aids.
It’s possible that we who are older have more to remember than at any other time in our life except when we were trying to navigate first-child necessities! Here again, the number of mental transactions is greater, hence the greater possibility of error.
So…. Don’t call me forgetful until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes.
(MY SHOES! I FORGOT TO PUT ON MY SHOES!)
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