As a journalist, I wrote about senior care centers, one version of which was a memory care unit.
Many people are concerned about failing memories as they age, so I asked the facility director to explain the difference between memory loss and simple acts of forgetting, like where someone put their keys.
She held up her keys and asked me, “What are these used for?”
If I hadn’t known, then I might have been in an early stage of dementia. Happily, I did know how keys are used. The difference, she further explained, is that losing keys is a commonplace occurrence. Losing the ability to function because you don’t know how to use the item is a very different matter.
An example that was given included using a dog dish on the stove to heat food because you didn’t remember what a pot is.
Recently, I heard about a childhood phenomenon called “childhood amnesia.” This seems to occur when adults have no memories of their early childhood.
I have a difficult time myself remembering much before about age six. An occasional fleeting memory might pop in, but for the most part, my strongest memories are from after my sister was born, when I was six.
Sources suggest that a young child is so busy acquiring skills that facts don’t accumulate. You’re so busy learning use of your hands, your body, your mind, and many thought processes that memories of dates, times and things are usually only recalled when they are very traumatic.
Now, contrast that with what happens to people in the other end of the age spectrum. Those with Alzheimer’s, as in the example I gave previously, have some vague memory of how to do something, but the specifics of it have disappeared. They know the process – cooking something on the stove – but use the wrong implement.
I just made the connection between this life progression this morning. It’s like moving backwards, while still knowing the process, but not the details, reminiscent of childhood amnesia.
What can you do about it? Document your memories. Write things down. Share stories with your friends and family. Record images and voice. Don’t give up!
As a writing coach, I encourage you to write and record those stories, sagas and memories to keep your family life continuing into the next generation. Those memories are precious!
If I can assist with building your memoir, please contact me, Book Writing Success Coach.