My last two posts have been about external challenges we can sometimes face as women crossing the proverbial line of middle age into ……..hmmmmm……let’s just say older than middle age. It is true ‘they’ do say that the new 50’s are 40’s and 60’s are the new 50’s blah blah blah…..really???? First of all I am curious to know who “they” are. If you are 50, 60 or 70, that is what you are…..however, depending on many things, you may feel much younger or perhaps even much older. So far, I tell you nothing…. so let’s elaborate some.
I have noticed in perhaps the last two or three years that it is so much harder to retain information, such as movies I have seen. My husband and I have an almost daily routine to watch a movie while having our dinner. We love this time of day when we decompress and engage in two of our favorite activities……eating and zoning out on a movie. The problem is we never seem to remember if we have already seen a movie we want to watch. Seriously, we have watched a movie all the way to the end and suddenly one of us will declare “OMG”…….we saw this one, and the other will declare….”Oh Yeah, we did” and start laughing. We recently watched a movie that we rented once before and did not like, but we, of course, did not remember that we did not like it and actually paid to rent it again! We did not like it the second time either! It is an ongoing, “normal” part of our daily lives. Are we losing it? And by “it” I mean our minds. Nooooooo…….in fact we consider it a benefit, because, we have an endless catalog of movies that we can watch over and over cause we don’t remember the ending. It is awesome! That is how I put a twinkle in this wrinkle…just call it awesome and laugh.
Memory loss is a common occurrence in the aging process. But as an older, mature woman, I have a very simple theory regarding this problem. We are not good at discarding and filtering our thoughts. That’s right! We shove every worry, concern, possible answer to every problem our children/grandchildren or friend could ever need from us, both past and current, and that is not even including every worry we might have about ourselves or our spouses or on and on and on…….and we don’t let go of any of it. I have 5 children and 14 grandchildren, 3 siblings and a mom. I seem to think my mind can and will come up with any answers that they may have to their problems. For the most part, I usually can come up with reasonable solutions but it leaves no room in my brain to remember the end of a movie or if I have even seen it before. Important? Maybe not so much.
Now I am told that losing one’s keys or forgetting where you parked the car is actually quite common even for the “younger” set, however, it is still non-the-less frightening when you walk out of a store and suddenly realize you forgot where you parked. I remember once walking out of Walmart in the middle of winter and had a panic attack because I could not locate my white car in a sea of other white cars parked in a lot covered in white snow. My husband had to come bail me out of that predicament. But I realized that a few simple tricks can help to never live that nightmare again. For instance, I always take a second to notice my surroundings before I leave the car. I will actually say out loud things like, “ok, I am parked directly in front the F of Fred Meyer, or usually there are letters on posts in your lane (who pays attention right?) You can also speak these things into your phone or even snap a picture of your location before you go into the store. I know, so many extra steps when so often we are in a hurry to get in an out of the grocery store. But it is definitely worth the effort. I think there should be an invention whereby your keys can locate your car, and I am not talking about beeps or lights flashing, cause I know there are such things. I am talking clear communication where you press a button and a hand rises high up from your car antenna and vehemently waves at you while a voice you recognize says “I am Here”! This of course will only work if you have not forgotten your keys in the car, which I have….more than once.
Another so-called remedy for helping your memory is to play games that exercise your brain. Now, I barely exercise my body, but brain exercise, that I love doing. I play Words with Friends with my 84-year-old mother every day. She loves words, and word puzzles and gave me that same love for them, and let me tell you, she is hard to beat. My games with her alone give me plenty of brain exercise. Some people like to use numbers and solving problems, me, not so much. My grandpa would carry a small pencil and paper in his pocket and add numbers all day long and he was sharp as a tack. There are many different puzzles and logic games out there that keeps your brain from going stagnant.
I agree we need to be “mindful”(a little play on words) of how we care for our brains, what we feed it and how important it is sometimes to “detoxify” and rid ourselves of unnecessary thinking. We can flood our minds with worry, fear, and unhealthy thoughts. It is critical to our overall health to make an assessment every once in awhile and give our brains a good cleanse. What do you think?