By Sunie Levin
Continued from part 1 of this article…..
Here’s a toughie. Remembering names. Hopeless? Probably. The real problem isn’t memory. It’s indifference. My husband has never been able to remember names. Never. But even at his age, if a good-looking woman is introduced to him, somehow he remembers her name. When you meet someone new, try saying the name in your mind several times. Start a brief conversation, “Nice to meet you Alice.” “Where is your hometown, Alice?” “How long have you been here, Alice? Try to make a snapshot of the person in your mind, emphasizing some feature that stands out. The system works. Sometimes. As a fallback, exchange calling cards, or write down the name as quickly as you can.
Did I do it? Did I turn off the oven? Did I lock the door to the house? Did I put down the garage door? Make a list of important routines. Then say each out loud 2 or 3 times as you do it. “I’m turning off the oven” Check. “I’m taking my pills” Check.“ I shut the garage door when I left” Check.” I locked the front door.” Check.
What am I suppose to do today?
Every day there are things I need to do, people I need to call, chores I need to do, bills I need to pay, thank-you notes I must write. Lots of things. Make a list. Simple. But do it. My husband puts his billfold upright on his night table to remind himself of something that needs doing the next day. Just about anything out of place that focuses your attention will do. I like turning a shoe upside down, so that it reminds me of why I left it like that.
It was a relief the other day when my 55 year daughter told me she forgot what she had in mind when she walked in to the laundry room carrying a bottle of Ketchup in her hand. She’s a law school professor, lectures in countries around the world, writes learned law review articles, and even she forgets from time to time. Somehow I find that comforting.
All of us seniors joke about our loss of short term memory, but it’s very real and troubling to us. The real solution for most things is to write everything down, or dictate it to a tape recorder. Let’s say you meet someone new. In your small notebook, write their name, telephone number, number of children and grandchildren, birthday, anniversary—everything you can pick up about them. Write it down before you forget, which, if you don’t, means the info vanishes in the nanosecond after you stop visiting with them. Look at the notebook before meeting with them again. What a way to make new good friends. They’ll be astonished you remember, particularly when they’ve already forgotten everything about you.
So there you have it. It’s not rocket science. It’s mostly common sense, really. The trick is just to try it.
– Sunie Levin, author of Make New Friends… Live Longer, is a graduate of the University of Missouri and holds degrees in psychology and education. She has appeared on local and national T.V. and was a syndicated columnist for many newspapers.