Friday, September 20, 2013 4 Comments
When Memory Fails
by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
From the ADD & Memory Series
Forgetting and Remembering Part 1
There are three harbingers of Old Age:
one is memory loss
and I forget the other two.
What IS Memory, anyway?
All kidding aside, when we think about human memory loss, what is it that we think we’re losing?
The educated “man on the street” would probably say that memory is our ability to store, retain, and recall information.
And he would be right — but the kind of information we utilize memory to store, retain and recall is more complex and comprehensive than most of us realize (and it matters!)
When we “can’t remember” – when only one component of memory fails us (recall on demand) – it is not really the same as when we “forget.”
Most of the time, for most of us with CRS [Can’t Remember Stuff], the information we are trying to “remember” hasn’t been lost, we just can’t seem to recall it when we need it.
- It is still stored somewhere in that brain of ours, and we probably will recall it later (once we no longer need it, right?)
- It’s just that our cognitive file clerk is unable to locate it the moment we ask for it.
Most of us could come up with one or more items on the following list of the kinds of things we know we once knew but can no longer recall – which prompts us to say “we don’t remember.”
- Facts of various types (like names, phone numbers, birthdays, or how many pints in a quart)
- Intellectual or physical procedures (how to determine the square root of a number, tie a Double Windsor knot in a man’s tie, or drive a stick-shift)
- Experiences from our past (from our second kiss to our second-cousin’s graduation from college, as well as what transpired in our own lives immediately before, during or after momentous events in everyone’s “memory”)
- Elements of language (noun and verb tense agreement, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, metaphors, similes and more – including how they fit together to form a “grammatically correct” sentence that conveys exactly what we mean to communicate – as well as how to write it down and spell it!)
- Locations (how to get to our parent’s new house — as well as where they hide the back-up roll of toilet paper)
- Promises and plans (Was that TONIGHT?)
OR anything else we expect ourselves to “remember” without having to “look it up.”
And that’s just the tip of the memory iceberg!
When we speak of memory loss (or memory troubles), we could be talking about any of those arenas, and-a-whole-lot-more!
NOT Black and White
We seldom have troubles with ALL types of memory, yet we speak of our unreliable or declining “memory” in a black and white fashion, as if it affected us across the board.
The more you know about how memory is supposed to work, the better armed you are for how to remember things when yours works differently – so read on!