Oops, Where Did I Leave It? – Part 2

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By Sunie Levin

Continued from part 1 of this article…..

seniormanHere’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.

seniorcoupleexercisesmallAll 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.

Oops, Where Did I Leave It? – Part 1

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By Sunie Levin

seniors2I lost my car keys. I have searched everywhere. You know what? It doesn’t matter. I won’t need them unless I find my car!

My husband laughed until he choked when I told him I was writing this article. I manage to lose something everyday, some days several things. The daily list includes glasses, purse, car keys and cell phone. I panic when they are gone. Did I leave them in a restaurant? At the beauty shop? At the doctor’s office. He patiently assures me they’re right here, at home, and he’s always right.

So why am I writing this type of article? I’m 82 years old. My senior moments come too frequently. Some days my 85 year old husband has to supply the tip of my tongue with my missing word. “Where did I put the purple stuff?” He replies,”You mean the grape juice, and it’s on the counter, right there. Once not all that long ago I went to a lecture and put my purse and umbrella under the seat. When the lecture was over I went to my car, but couldn’t get in. The keys of course were in my purse. Panicking, I ran back and luckily they were still there, right where I left them.

Memory. It bothers all of us ‘of a certain age’. When we remember to think about it. When I saw my internist recently for a checkup I shared my concern about my daily “oops” and said fearfully, Do you think it’s Alzheimers?” He said, not the least worried, “You managed to get here on the date and time of your appointment, didn’t you? You didn’t get lost on the way, did you? And you are still writing articles and books. Why don’t you write how you compensated for the natural memory loss you are experiencing? It’s an everyday problem.”

exercisebrainGood idea! So here’s the article. I’m going to share some of the tricks I now use to jog my memory. They’re easy, and I’m not going to harass you to learn mnemonic devices. Forgetting is normal. Losing your keys doesn’t mean you are losing your mind. Much forgetfulness is just a symptom of bein distracted.

So here are a few tricks I found extremely useful. When I remember to use them, that is:

* Find a basket for everything you routinely use,. Keep it in the exact same place, and use it to put down your eyeglasses, house and car keys, cell phone, pill box. Once you’re firmly in the habit of going to that exact spot, you’ll always find what you are looking for. Hey, I trained my schnauzer. I can certainly train myself.

* Losing your car in parking lot isn’t fun especially, if it rains. “Oh my gosh, somebody must have stolen it.” The simplest way is to look back twice, picking up a landmark so you’ll remember the row it’s in. Another way is to carry a small tape recorder or text a message where to find your car. In fact, use your tape recorder to remind yourself about anything you’re afraid you might forget.

* Something on the tip of my tongue I can’t recall. Like the purple stuff, try reciting the alphabet and when you get to the right letter of the alphabet the word starts with, the answer usually pops to mind.

* Put something down and can’t find it five minutes later? Focus! Pay attention! Take a second, and visualize in your mind a detailed picture. Say it out loud when you put it down. “I put my file with medical bills on the low bedroom dresser.” Then take a second to visualize the file. Just what could I have done with the file? Thrown it in the trash? Okay, maybe. Retrace everywhere you’ve been and visualize the file. You’ll find it. It will be there.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this article shortly…..

– 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.