Yesterday, a friend reminded me about a conversation we had a few weeks earlier that I had forgotten. “I’m beginning to worry about you,” she said.
Then I began to worry about me. Was this an indication of something serious?
I began checking for other signs of forgetfulness. Nothing stuck out. I handle a million details with my business, and remember most of them. So how to explain my “losing” that conversation until she reminded me of it? I think I figured it out. I see it every night. I sit on the sofa with my iPad, my husband tells me something, and then asks, “Are you paying attention?” “Yes,” I answer, and I am telling the truth. I am paying attention — just not to him. I am fully engrossed in what I am reading on my iPad. My hearing is normal. My memory is ok. It’s my ability to multitask that is shot.
I hear what my husband tells me, but when I am multitasking, I just don’t take it in. These days, it seems I need to focus more on what I am doing, and have fewer distractions. Perhaps I was focusing on something else when my friend called a few weeks ago. I decide that is what it is, and feel relieved. I am no longer worried about me, but I know that something has changed.
I think about a quote I read by a man diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease: ” I say something and they blame it on the Alzheimer’s. Someone else says the same thing, and no one notices.” I get it. If someone young forgets a conversation, we assume they weren’t paying attention, but when you reach a certain age and you forget something, then people “begin to worry about you,” and you begin to worry about yourself as well.
For now I’ve concluded that my memory is ok, and that I need to concentrate more and have fewer distractions. I can live with that, but it is food for thought. We take an act, like forgetting (I prefer the term misremembering), and make assumptions based on a person’s age. Sounds like ageism to me. What makes it so sinister is that we not only make assumptions about others, we make assumptions about ourselves, too. I rant about ageism in print and in the media, but ageism is much closer to home. I might do better fighting ageism outside if I had better control of the ageism in myself.