Friday, February 15, 2008

You Must Remember This

Show me a premenopausal woman, and I'll show you someone who secretly worries she's got Alzheimer's.

There's my friend who forgot she'd agreed to feed the neighbors' dog while they were gone for the weekend. (Fortunately, the doggy's owners returned and reclaimed their key, which is what finally prompted my friend to think "Dog... what dog... oh my God, that dog.")

There's my other friend, who had a detailed discussion with some mutual friends one night about exactly what grade Billy is in. "Billy's a senior, right?" she asked. My friends told her he was a junior, which surprised her and prompted several minutes of "are you sure?" conversation. The very next night, she was out with the same group. "Billy's a senior, right?" (She still swears the topic had never previously come up.)

And then there's me. I routinely call Billy Ben and Ben Billy, and I can't find my car in a parking lot without whirling my keychain panic button over my head like a lasso.

I'm happy to report there's a new book out there for women like me and my forgetful friends. It's Where Did I Leave My Glasses: The What, When, and Why of Normal Memory Loss, by Martha Weinman Lear. (Pictured beneath the title on the cover of the book is a woman with her glasses on her head. This title and cover are so perfect together that I really hate whoever came up with them.) Yesterday, I think it was, Ms. Lear was interviewed on Fresh Air. You can listen to it here.

She says we shouldn't worry, as long as we can still do things like list fruits and vegetables. (For these purposes, I'm sure it's fine if you classify a tomato as either.) It's completely normal for people at a certain stage in life --I'm not saying exactly when it starts, but smart-ass teenagers who make fun of forgetful parents ought to count their memory blessings while they still can-- to have trouble with three things: remembering names ("remind me again who you are?"), multitasking (i.e., living in America), and processing new information (so that's why I can't get photos in my blog entries!).

I couldn't help but note that Ms. Lear's research indicates a key component to improved memory is paying attention. If you're doing three things at one time but only really focusing on one, the other two aren't going to make much of a footprint on your gray matter. Which means before the night is over I'll have totally forgotten that I watched The News Hour this evening while I wrote this entry.

So check out this book. If you're like me, though, you better order it from Amazon right now, or in a day or two you'll see it in a bookstore and say "What a clever idea for a book! Why didn't I think of that?"

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