Becoming Forgetful

When I was young and I’d hear an older person say they were getting old and forgetful, I used to smile and say I couldn’t wait to have that excuse for my absentmindedness. I’ve always been easily distracted. Flaky, even.

But now I’m starting to get it. As I age, it’s getting much, much worse. And that’s terrifying. It is no fun, no fun at all, to know you can no longer rely on your own brain. Especially when you live alone.

Today I accidentally left my to-do list at home, and I’m a bit freaked out. I’m fairly certain that I’m forgetting to do something that’s time-sensitive and important, but for the life of me, I can’t recall what it is. That’s a helpless feeling. I don’t like it. That’s why I created the to-do list in the first place.

And I’m starting to forget words. I know what I want to say conceptually. It’s on the tip of my tongue. I just can’t always verbalize it. “Please pass me the… the… you know. That thing.”

Do you have any idea how scary it is for a writer not to be able to come up with a word? And since I’m not currently in a nice comfortable relationship where the other person can finish my sentences for me, odds are that the person I’m talking to doesn’t know what thing I’m referring to.

The older I get, the more I feel like I’m traveling in a land where I don’t speak the language and I don’t have a map or an itinerary. And while I do love to travel, I love to be able to communicate even more. This is a confusing place. I’d like to go home now.


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8 thoughts on “Becoming Forgetful

  1. lyn sutton

    Maybe this will be of some comfort… … but if not just know that eventually you won’t even be aware that you’re forgetting. You’ll just blame others when things go missing or don’t get done. 🙂
    Seriously, don’t assume it’s old age. You’re not that old and you exercise your brain muscle a lot so it may be time to consider other causes. You’ve been under a lot of pressure with your move and stress definitely makes it worse. (Slow deep breaths and fewer lists.)

    I speak from experience having been misdiagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It was actually a serious long term side effect of medication. Have regained 75% of my lost cognitive functions since discontinuing it but may never regain the other 25% so…lots of mental exercises and finding humor in my glitches so I don’t succumb to fear.

    1. That link actually IS very comforting. Thanks for that. And I know the condition can improve as well as deteriorate, because after I finally got off graveyard shift after having done it for 10 years, it was like the fog was lifted. It was miraculous! So yeah, who knows? If I do, I can’t remember. 🙂

  2. I, too, have forgotten my “lists” when I needed them, including going to the grocery store without it. I see people using their phones for lists. That is something I have not learned to do but it sure does present possibilities — assuming that I don’t forget to bring my cell phone! I don’t yet know how to make a list on my phone but I could e-mail it to myself — that would be one way to see it on my phone.

  3. Elaine

    One of the reasons I decided to retire at 62 was just what you are talking about..I was an ICU nurse and I began to have lapses in my ability to succinctly inform others of what was needed in emergency situations. (Also, I had grievances with administration personnel and policies…but I digress.). Sim can tell you that I have “glitches” when I just can’t think of the proper word and have to talk around until he can help me remember. It is good to have that person who knows you well enough to help complete sentences. I emphasize with you. I am not a writer but I have always had a huge vocabulary. Not to readily access my “words” is scary on many levels. I fear Alzheimer’s but remain hopeful that my forgetfulness is just the normal aging process. Mayhap my brain is just too much full of underused words and thus blocking my easy access. 😉

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