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Is this normal? (aging/memory)


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My parents are 82, recently moved to (separate) retirement communities, and I believe they are in good health. They live very far away so we don't visit.

 

Neither of them remember that both my sister and I played the flute in third grade.

 

I am their youngest and they didn't particularly enjoy parenthood or consider it a core part of their identity. It was just what people did back then. This was pre-Roe vs Wade so they didn't actually have but so much choice in the matter. I had one sister who died in her twenties. Both of us left home relatively young and moved thousands of miles away.

 

Mom and Dad have cousins, nieces, nephews, former co-workers etc. who are much closer to them than I am, hobbies that they are passionate about, and seem to have full, happy lives.

 

They disapprove of homeschooling and other issues that I am passionate about so we do best agreeing to disagree.

 

I can't imagine forgetting anything that important about any of my children, but maybe it wasn't important to them?

 

They didn't pay for the lessons, the public schools offered them back then. My own memories are priceless: they would accompany us on the piano, attend recitals, show appropriate pride when we learned new pieces, etc. It is just as incomprehensible to me that they could forget something so precious and warm and fuzzy as it must be to you when I wax poetic about homeschooling in the '90s or talk about dd29 and ds9 in the same sentence.

 

Would you mention this to their caregivers or just not worry about it other than working a few "I'll never forget that time we...." and "One of my favourite memories is..." and "I'm really glad you're my mom/dad because...."es into emails and phone conversations?

 

 

TIA

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I was recently talking to a friend and her mother and the friend was talking about how she chose to play the trumpet in 3rd grade and her mom had.a fit because she wanted her to play flute. Apparently, there was yelling and crying and mom wouldn't let her practice the trumpet in the house for, like, 2 years. And her mother did not remember ANY of that. She kept saying, "what? That never happened!" And they called her dad who verified it.

 

I remember being shocked that my parents didn't remember some random thing that I thought was a big deal - obvi, I don't even remember what it was now - and that's when I learned that your parents simply don't remember the same things you do in the same way :p I'm not sure I woul be worried unless it became an issue of forgetting many important things that you know they recently knew about. I like your idea about jogging their memories with stuff, though!

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For an isolated incident like that, I would chalk it up to typical age memory loss. We can't remember *everything* and the brains (of healthy people) prune out memories that are not retained as significant. I forget things that my kids remember; my DD was just telling me about something we used to do with the kitty we had when she was little. I don't remember doing this and even after she talked about it, I have no memory of it.

 

In my MIL's case at least, the initial memory loss of dementia has been entirely short-term; i.e., forgetting what she had for lunch, forgetting to call someone as planned, forgetting she told you something already,

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It was something *you* did a half century ago.  They enjoyed it at the time, but they weren't invested in it, it wasn't *their* time/effort/accomplishment, and they probably haven't thought about it much since then, maybe sort of like a movie that they enjoyed once upon a time, but have forgotten.

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It was something *you* did a half century ago.  They enjoyed it at the time, but they weren't invested in it, it wasn't *their* time/effort/accomplishment, and they probably haven't thought about it much since then, maybe sort of like a movie that they enjoyed once upon a time, but have forgotten.

 

:iagree:

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Years ago, I found an old diary I had tried to keep when I was in elementary school. (I've never been able to keep up with one for more than a few weeks, lol.)  In it, I mentioned something that had happened at soccer practice the day before.  It was shocking, because I don't recall playing soccer at any point in my entire life.  Ever.

 

Sometimes my kids bring up a short-term activity that I forgot they did.  It usually comes back to me eventually, but can stay pretty fuzzy.

 

I'm 40 years old, my eldest is going on 19, I've been a sahm for nearly 16 years, and I've homeschooled for 11 years now.  I can't claim disinterest in my kids!

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It is very normal to forget stuff like that---even at a much earlier age. 

 

Memory issues that are significant in terms of memory disorders are: 

 

Forgetting what was just said in a conversation. ie You and your parents have just had a whole conversation about what is available to have for lunch and parent says, "So what do we have for lunch?" as if the conversation never happened. 

 

Forgetting where you are/getting lost in a very familiar setting. (ie in the town you've lived in for 10 years, in your house that you've lived in for years, etc. )

 

Forgetting to eat (Many moms with young kids forget because they are super busy. An elderly retired person who forgets to eat is likely to have a memory problem.) 

 

Forgetting to perform regular hygiene or resisting regular hygiene. 

 

Misplacing something is normal--especially for some people. Not being able to retrace your steps from that day is not normal. 

 

It is the loss of present, short-term memory that is the issue, not forgetting a relatively minor thing from decades ago. 

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Every once in awhile, I'll be chatting with my brother and one of us mentions a childhood memory to the other. And the other one has NO idea what the first is talking about. It's happened to both of us and we're both cognitively "with it". 

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Thank you so much, everyone. I'm not going to sweat it then and I'll just keep on loving them.

 

The flute was important to me but Mom probably feels the same way that I don't remember what her furbabies' favourite flavour of ice cream is and sometimes you just need an objective opinion in this kind of a family. :)

 

Dr. Hive to the rescue.

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I wouldn't worry too much about it.  The brain actually works to make itself able to deal with the day-to-day it is IN, and sometimes that involves letting go of memories from the past.  

 

If it makes you feel any better, my mom was a really good mom...and she had a LOT of extra work to do because of my allergies and health issues.  Yet, when she was about 70, she asked me if I wanted eggs for breakfast.  Eggs would KILL me when I was a kid.  It was a little bit shocking to hear her say that, but in reality, she was doing fine in her daily life, and had lots of social activities and friends and responsibilities, and was doing well.  It's just one of the things she didn't need to remember any more.

 

Now, she is 94 and we just went for a visit, and I told her we would do all our own cooking because of the allergies.  "Oh...do you have allergies?   That's too bad."  

 

Yeah, Mom, I have allergies.  You spent immense amounts of time and energy and money for many years trying to help me, to find cures, cooking extra meals so we could eat as a family...you did a great job.  And I'm kind of glad you don't remember that anymore...because at this point, you need to keep your resources on what makes you able to tend to the needs you have today.  

 

She's definitely slipped...but part of her brain's self-preservation is forgetting that which need not be remembered.  :0)

 

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How short is short term? I've had this question about a parent for quite awhile. Like asking three times in the space of a month what local hospital a grandchild was going to be born in, and each time responding in a way that suggests it's totally new news for them, rather than, "oh yeah, that's right. We talked about that." This is not an uncommon thing now (in a 73yo). Gifts bought for Christmas have multiple times either been forgotten they were bought, so don't get given, or more than one is bought. Do these things sound normal?

 

That is somewhat concerning. (I am only responding from BTDT with a parent). I wish that all physicians would do the mini mental exam at each visit starting at age 65 or something so anything gets picked up fast. 

 

I plan to go to a gerontologist once I hit 70. There are so many things that don't filter down to primary care doctors about drugs, etc. My parent went to the doctor complaining of memory concerns and was not given ANY current advice on how to slow it down. Meds were not evaluated either and there were several that shouldn't have been being taken and weren't even necessary. 

 

Things that are reversible to check out: B12 deficiency, and thyroid issues (not just the TSH. It can be within normal range and still have the actual enzymes out of range. Happened to 2 people in my family.) 

 

Things that might be reversible: drugs.  Anticholinergic drugs should be used very carefully at that age if at all. Google Beers List (Put out by the Geriatric Society each year) and then look down the list for dementia. Those are the drugs especially to avoid. Also, there is a table at the end of specifically anticholinergic drugs. Common ones: Benadryl, sleep aids, stomach acid reducers, some classes of antidepressants, and bladder control drugs. 

 

What there is research on: 

 

BEST thing that you can do to prevent or slow down or even somewhat reverse cognitive issues is physical exercise. A combination of aerobic (45-60 min per day as many days a week as possible) and strength training has the most research backing. (If you look at the last April well trained bodies thread, I linked that new research article.) The findings are not new. It's been known for years that exercise works. 

 

Other good things: Mediterranean or MIND diet (get rid of as much sugar and saturated fat as possible; eat lots of veges and fruits, especially dark green leafy and blueberries, and fatty fish with omega 3s) 

Social interaction

Mind stimulation: reading, crosswords, taking a class, etc. 

 

Also, make sure her finances are nailed down. One of the first things to go is financial judgment. Bills might not be paid on time or are paid more than once. Money can be given to ummm nonworthwhile causes and shady individuals. 

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