Short term memory loss…huh!

August 26, 2011

Short term memory loss…huh!

They tell us that as we get older, we lose memory. But that we retain long term memory. Perhaps that’s because what happened in the past was meaningful to us, and that now as we have aged and are living in a younger person’s world, much of that world is not so interesting to us, so we don’t care to remember that stuff. It’s a world less personally relevant.

Personally I couldn’t care less for today’s music, their musicians, the goings on of the younger actors in modern films. Much of today’s younger world is relevant to the young, who have to find a mate, make their way, find out the meaning of life. Their culture, music, media reflects this. But I’ve done that, and what interests me now isn’t that stuff. It’s old hat to me…I’ve done it. So of course It’s not meaningful to me.

Now imagine your visiting in a Nursing home. Don’t forget that it was planned by younger people for the management of older people. Do you really think that the life there is in any way relevant or meaningful to the people who live there?

Well, it’s not. The only people who have to remember things there, are the staff. It’s important that they do…it’s their job. The residents, however, don’t have to remember anything. Nothing meaningful for them goes on there anyway. Perhaps you’ll want to argue that older people’s lives always have value and life is meaningful. Well go ahead. But first spend 3 weeks in any organizational setting like a hospital and tell me that your brain doesn’t just freeze up and rust.

There has to be a better way and variation might be the key. In a Nursing home, the same things go on every day. The routines are like rock, they never change. That’s a fact. But facts may well be not so clear cut after all. If you look carefully, you might see slight variations. The cleaning gets done a bit ahead or behind schedule. Sometimes done better or worse. Sometimes there’s a joke, and sometimes things are oppressive. Little differences constantly occurring.

Looking for variation provides meaning, and meaning provides memory. It shows that despite evidence to the contrary, every category, belief, ideology, fact, and diagnosis may not be as it seems. A doctor’s view of your prognosis, or any expert opinion for that matter, may have a lot more variation in it than you might think. When told you have high blood pressure, is it always high, are there times when it’s not, is there lots of variation, so that the diagnosis is right some of the time, but not all the time? I have Diabetes, do my sugar levels vary? You bet they do.

A person with Dementia, has clear minded lucidity at times. And the more you look, the more you might find actually there. And so the idea of being demented, thought to be global and total, might actually turn out not to be. In fact real help for people with Dementia is helping them with the task of noticing lucid moments, and to ask them to notice variation in any category, like when are other residents being lucid or not, during the day. Or when was the meal served. When was the food well presented and when  not.

IF staff were also being asked to notice the variation in any condition, diagnosis, illness and injury, they might find a lot more is going on. That can be meaningful and hence…memorable.

So it seems to me that since short term memory loss may be a function of meaninglessness and rigid categorization, and not just that they got old, it makes sense that to look for variation, holds the possibility of keeping memory strong and people alive.

And…. If you too are thinking that your own minds and memories are turning to a  runny porridge, with some possible Short Term Memory Loss throw in in for good measure,  a little noticing  of variation in what might seem yet again “The SAME Old Thing”, might just do the trick . Good luck and good night. Download POSITIVE AGEING SECRETS.


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