Question of Today~29th of May, 2014~Memory Challenged

A conundrum: Are you memory challenged and if so how do you know that you’ve forgotten what you can’t remember?

Ailsa told me a joke recently about 3 elderly sisters:
Three sisters, ages 92, 94, and 96, live in a house together. One night the 96-year-old draws a bath. She puts her foot in and pauses. She yells down the stairs, “Was I getting in or out of the bath?” the 94-year-old yells back, “I don’t know. I’ll come up and see.” She starts up the stairs and pauses. “Was I going up the stairs or down?” the 92-year-old is sitting at the kitchen table having tea listening to her sisters. She shakes her head and says, “I sure hope I never get that forgetful.” She knocks on wood for good measure. She then yells, “I’ll come up and help both of you as soon as I see who’s at the door.”

I write lists and notes.
I take Andrew Carnegie’s advice to live life in day tight compartments.

I understand that with the vast amount of information I have put into my brain, the likelihood that I will be able to find exactly what I want exactly when I want it degrades over time.
I also understand the limits of short term memory, and the fact that if one has some consideration on the mind, there can be little or no room for new stuff.

I have always had episodes of not remembering stuff, and being unable to recall what I want when I want it. It has been normal for me, for as long as I have memories. So I have learned mechanisms to cope.
Stress is the worst thing. The harder I try the worse it is. So I have learned to just relax, an let it come when it comes.

People’s names are the worst thing for me. There are about 50,000 people who expect me to know their names. Names do not come to me quickly. I can usually recall where I met them, where they come from, and what their interests are, but not their name.

And I read a lot – probably average around 100,000 words a day, and have been doing so for about 16,000 days. Plus all the things I’ve seen. That’s a lot of words and a lot of pictures.

So I don’t worry much about not being able to recall stuff. It happens, often.

[followed by]


Yeah – I know what you mean.

I am very cautious about self talk, and what I choose to accept as reality these days. My brush with cancer got my attention on that level very strongly.

And was at pains to point out that I have had such experiences my whole life, and there are a bunch of logical reasons (other than Alzheimer’s) why their frequency will naturally increase with age.

From childhood I have memories of going into a room then turning around and coming back out because I couldn’t remember why I was going there, because I had been distracted by another thought, and the original intention had vanished. That class of things has been with me throughout life. Ailsa not so much.
We are different.

My intention was not to talk people into such things, but rather to remove the stress from their occurrence, and make them a natural part of being human. Because one thing is certain – stress only makes such things far more common. Stress is something to avoid if at all possible.

[followed by]


Agree that the more types of memory we activate, the greater the probability of recall – which goes particularly for humour or novelty (brains tend to remember novel things).

There are two major aspects to lessening of recall with age:

One is that as we gain experience, novelty become more rare. The more experience we have, the easier it is for our brains to classify anything as being similar to something already known.

The other is that there is simply a lot of other stuff in memory that it can get confused with.

The science seems to indicate that we have three different sorts of conscious level memory, plus all of the subconscious stuff.
Mostly we use short term memory for short term tasks, and it is easy to overwhelm it, as it can’t hold very many things simultaneously. One trick is to use our spatial memory, which is extremely powerful, and make imaginary rooms where we store stuff.

And I have always had the knack of focussing on one thing so intently that all other awareness fades away (including time). Such sessions may last seconds or hours, and they may be conversations or solitary (problem solving or exploration of logical consequences). Has gotten me into a lot of trouble with Ailsa, as I was once 5 hours late home from a meeting, and had put my cell phone on silent when entering the meeting, and stayed in a conversation with one participant. It was only when the conversation ended that my sense of time returned, and I realised it was 4am. Ailsa had me over a bank in a crashed car. I called home immediately, but it was a bit late.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see
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