This column has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while now.
Not because it’s overly complex, required a ton of research or was particularly difficult to write.
Honestly, it just kept slipping my mind.
I’d jot a few sentences, get distracted by one of any number of things that needed my attention and then forget all about it for long stretches.
That’s actually pretty on brand for me these days.
Every morning at home I’m like a flight attendant running through my pre-departure routine.
Is the stove off? Yes; Back door locked? Appears to be; Am I wearing pants? I most certainly am.
Did I already check all these things earlier, before I was in a mad scramble to get out the door? Probably, but who can say for sure?
One thing is certain, though. I’m easily distracted, absent-minded, have a brain like a sieve – however you want to say it. I’m forgetful.
More and more these days, I find myself retracing my steps in search of, well, whatever it was I was looking for.
My brain is very much like a plastic ketchup bottle. I can squeeze it for ages, trying to produce even a small drop of information – be it a word, a name or any inkling of why I might have walked into a room – and … nothing.
When the answer finally comes to me, like the ketchup, it does so in a dramatic burst – usually accompanied by a loud farting noise (I’m kidding – that hardly ever happens).
If I can, I’ll quickly make a note before the thought vanishes.
This is why I’ve come to live and die by lists. You can find them scattered on pretty much every flat surface in my home and office.
Because making lists saves me the aggravation of forgetting important tasks and the embarrassment (or financial cost) of missed appointments, I take great comfort in them. There’s also the added satisfaction of scratching a line through anything I’ve actually managed to accomplish.
I confess I get a little rush whenever I reach into my mailbox and pull out one of those long, narrow notepads sent out by realtors who know a good marketing gimmick when they see one. I’m willing to bet very few of those babies get tossed in the recycling bin alongside the fast-food flyers and endless offers of free hearing tests.
Whether it’s the pace of life we’re all living or the fact I spend most of my time hanging with the 50-plus crowd, I know I’m in good company when it comes to drawing a blank at the worst possible moment.
But it can still be a little awkward at times.
“Yes, I’ve known each of you for decades and I’d happily introduce you if I could recall either of your last names right now.”
Why are so many of us so darn forgetful?
It can be tempting to jump to some scary conclusions, especially once you reach an age where you’re being stalked through the mail by hearing-aid companies.
For most of us, it’s nothing insidious. I’ve heard it said that not being able to find your keys is not a cause for concern; it’s when you’re holding your keys in your hand and don’t know what they’re for that it’s time to worry.
Generally speaking, though, the leading causes of forgetfulness are pretty universal.
Stress and lack of sleep are often to blame. It can also be a side effect of certain medications, an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise or dehydration.
Age is obviously a factor as well – brain fog is just one of a multitude of warning signs your body gives you that it has crested the hill and it’s now time to brace for a terrifying descent.
There are steps we can take and then, I guess, we accept and adapt.
We can always drink an extra glass of water, hit the hay an hour earlier, go for a walk and eat a vegetable or two, but going off your medication in an effort to improve your memory probably isn’t the wisest course of action. And aging … well, as my late stepmother was fond of saying,“Growing old stinks, but it beats the alternative.”
That’s the kind of wisdom you don’t hear every day. You might want to write that down.
Brenda Anderson is editor of the Peace Arch News.