Have you ever wondered like I have, why short term memories dissipate sharply beginning at sixty? I am talking about the annoyance of frequently misplaced car keys and paperwork. Factor in the amnesiac name recall and date relapse, and the reality of retirement is revealed.
More troubling is the ability to visualize objects when the ability to retrieve the object’s name is simple gone. Finally, as we struggle to retrieve the right word, we aim to take the blur out of our mind and reconnect back to our own conversation. Its all about staying connected both with our own absent mind and the person we wish to communicate with at the moment.
Surely, I am not the only one who completes sentences without nouns. The general rule is that a complete sentence needs a noun – a person, place, a thing. But the sixty-plus age group seems to do quite well without them. After all, completing one another’s sentences is simply part of retirement conversation. What’s the problem? Make it easy to understand and help fill in each other’s blanks. It is not so important to have quick conversations, anyway. We can now afford to stretch things out. Time and age allow it.
They say that as we age the hippocampus shrinks. (That’s the region of the brain involved in forming memories.) I reckon, as short term memories wane, the back of the mind shifts forward. It is actually a change of mental positioning. Simply put, short-term memories slide backwards and childhood memories move forward. What’s the problem?
We remember in flashes, not chronologically; that is why we forget dates so easily. To correct the problem, just pick a day of the week. You know: “Now was it a Tuesday, or Wednesday?” Then answer your own question, internally, of course. It’s the process of elimination.
And, if you can not remember; oh well, “we just can’t remember.”
Family, friends from decades past visit our thoughts. Events from our past encroach often. Fun times, sad and painful ones become a concentration. Suddenly, with no apparent thought forming, we are there at a memorial event like the Junior Year Championship game. It’s the tie-breaking play of tension, cold-night air, fans roaring, drum beating. We used to call it day-dreaming.
Unexpectedly, the lyrics of the song danced with someone special at High School Homecoming, reminisce in our head – melody and misty-moments linger.
What a great transition after sixty. Life gets slower. Thoughts are deeper. We laugh more often at our weaknesses and appreciate our hard-won strengths. Relationships become more meaningful and material life takes a back seat to relaxation. Our common goal is to remain awake, active, and adjust ourselves to the new life we are living – simply aging with all its twists and turns.
Written by Judy Wolcott Cline/ January 18, 2020