I am talking on my cell phone with my daughter, Caitlin, and I am panicked that I left my cell phone in the last store I had shopped in. Minutes later, I realized I am ON my cell phone!
I have the water running in the kitchen sink. I walk away, go sit down in the living room and about five minutes later I hear this noise like, what is that? Of course, then I realized I had left the water ON!
I get up, looking all over for my glasses – the bedside dresser, in my bathroom and in my purse … only minutes later I realize I have them ON! (And don’t chalk that one up to bad eyesight and a need to see the eye doctor because I just got these glasses this past summer!)
Recently, when I called in to the automated phone line at the pharmacy for a prescription refill, I input “the last four digits of my phone number”, and it kept getting kicked back that it was wrong. After several attempts, I realized I had been inputting the WRONG number. (I have had the same cell phone number for years!)
So I ask you, “How did I get so STUPID, and how come no one told me??” I always tell friends, “All my brain juice leaked out of my head from raising my children!!!” I think at least part of this is true!
I mean, I never was the smartest person in the room, but I could hold my own and be quite “witty” sometimes with a sharp, quick comeback to a comment. But now I have to really, really think of what that person is saying and it’s often difficult to concentrate. And then if I am lucky, I can think of that “witty response” two days later! (Maybe I should write a few of these witty comments down and carry them in my purse. Of course, that would mean I would need to remember where in my purse I kept these … and with my luck, I probably would forget I even wrote these down!)
When I am gabbing with a group of friends, and I finally REMEMBER what I had wanted to say 30 minutes ago, I start hollering “Oh, Oh, I remember now!!!” And I chime in right away before I forget again. (This reminds me of being a First Grader jumping up and down in my seat with my hand raised squealing, “Oh, Oh, call on me, call on me!!!! I know the answer!!!”)
When I mentioned some of the above to other family and friends, I became aware I am not alone. I mean, some of it is probably due to getting “mature” and well into midlife years, and some of it is probably attributable to being on brain “overload” with our busy, busy lives. I mean, even younger gals tell me, “I am so busy with all the things I have to do when I get home from work that I can’t concentrate on just one thing.” (They are worried about all of their chores they have when they get home: cooking, cleaning, clothes for the next day, homework, and who knows what else!)
Research has shown there could be several causes for forgetfulness and short-term “memory lapses” to include lack of sleep, stress and anxiety, side effects of medications, to name a few.
Some tips that might help us:
- Exercise regularly. Statistics show that exercise boosts brain growth factors and encourages growth of new brain cells. Also, recent studies have shown that walking can help prevent brain shrinkage and memory loss. (I will be the first to admit, I need to be more consistent with this one).
- Stay social. Social interaction has shown to help brain function. It often involves activities that challenge the mind and it helps ward off stress and depression. (You know – like trying to think of those witty comments… “Oh, Oh – I know the answer! Pick me! Pick me!”)
- Watch what you eat. Eat plenty of fruits and veggies, drink green tea and eat foods containing antioxidants which can keep your brain cells from “rusting.” Also foods rich in omega-3 fat (such as salmon, tuna, walnuts, and flaxseed) are particularly good for the brain and memory. (I wish they would say chocolate chip ice cream was a miracle food!)
- Manage stress. Goodness, I know, easier said than done, right? Stay tuned for an upcoming blog specifically on the issue of stress. The stress hormone, Cortisol, damages the brain over time and can lead to memory problems. (So tell your family, friends and your boss to cut you a little slack as stress is really not good for you!)
- Get plenty of sleep. Now this one I get an A++ in! Sleep is necessary for memory consolidation, so if you needed a health reason to sleep more, you’ve got it. (Your computer isn’t the only thing that needs to rest and reboot daily!)
- Get some brain exercise. Play games that involve strategy like chess or bridge, and consider word games like Scrabble. There are also some websites like luminosity.com which have activities to stimulate your brain. Learn new things – a foreign language, community education classes, or different driving routes. Read magazines and books that challenge you.
A few months back, my sister, Carol, and I had to go to the Courthouse downtown. We parked in the parking garage across the street, took care of our business at the Courthouse and returned to the parking garage. We entered the garage from the closest door, which was different than the one we had initially come out – and we could not find our car!!!! We walked up and down about 3 – 4 levels for several minutes (which felt like hours). We actually then walked outside, went around the block to enter from the same door we initially used. When we got back in the garage by this time, I wanted to “hitch hike” a ride from a young couple I spotted getting in their car, but my sister wouldn’t let me!! Between the lack of ventilation in the garage, the heat and the car fumes, we were getting exhausted and nauseous. After about another 15 minutes or so, we found the car. We thought we had lost our minds!
Earlier this week, I had this conversation with my husband, Michial:
Me: “Honey, when you get dressed, can you take out Baby Caitlin for me?” – to go to the bathroom. (Caitlin is our 22 year old daughter!)
Michial: “What? You mean Bella, don’t you?” (our feisty Chihuahua).
Me. “Yes, yes!!!” (Ha, ha, chuckle, chuckle).
You are probably thinking right now, “Wow, I’ve done some of these things, too! I am so glad I am not alone!” (And if you have never had these things happen to you, just wait – it is coming!)
Another few helpful hints to plan ahead. I think some of these could make all our lives a bit easier:
- Keep a calendar. Write important events, parties, and birthdays on your calendar. Keep that close by for ready reference, too.
- Make a “To-Do” list. I would be dead in the water if I didn’t write everything down that I had to do for the day and week! Keep it close by you, carry it in your purse and keep it on your desk next to you while you are working.
- Be organized and plan ahead. Keep your keys and eyeglasses and things you use every day in the same spot. MapQuest where you have to go if you are not familiar with your destination. (Don’t you wish MapQuest could find your keys when you’ve misplaced them?)
- Focus on one thing at a time. Take a deep breath in and out. Screen out distractions.
Wait, wait, I have one more thing to mention … oh, goodness, I forgot already!
Well, anyway, I have to go find my purse. Somehow I think I may have set it in the freezer when I went to go get some ice cream last night … which means the ice cream is probably sitting next to my jacket!