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Adventures in Retirement- Compensating for memory Loss

Written by Bill Leavitt. Posted in Featured, Senior Living

Published on July 05, 2017 with No Comments

Many seniors I know are concerned that their ability to remember things seems to be getting weaker.  In fact, most people do gradually lose their memory skills with aging.  I liken my memory to a computer; I have a specific memory capacity and am near that capacity.  I figure in order to remember something new I have so forget something that is already in my memory.  That allows me to make room for something new.

While people have different levels of ability to remember things, memory loss is natural and seniors shouldn’t be worried about it.  Instead, one should focus on making adjustments to his or her lifestyle to compensate for the aging process.  It is possible to compensate in ways that allow you to reduce the problem of memory loss so it is not noticeable.

Several years ago, I began creating daily lists of important things I wanted or needed to do.  Most important were appointments and daily chores that I wanted to make sure I didn’t forget.  Now, I include practically everything I plan to do on my daily list—even small tasks. My wife recently developed the same habit.  I have improved my list-making process until it is practically a science.

In one part-time job I had a few years ago, young fellow employees would come to me to find out when and where employee/management meetings were to be held.  We were typically told in advance of the meetings, including where and when and what was to be discussed, but only I wrote down the information.  Consequently I could be counted on to always know everything about the meetings.

When people ask me to do something for them, I jokingly say, “If you see me write it down, you can count on it.  If I don’t write down, you can be sure that I will forget it.

So how do you remember to write or update your lists?  There are several techniques for doing this, but for me, I start by copying things down from my current list that I either haven’t yet accomplished or that I want to repeat.  Often I start my list the night before, but occasionally I do it in the morning.  In any event, I always review my list first thing in the morning and make changes or additions as I think of them.  Throughout the day, I keep my list handy, and add new items or cross off completed ones.

It gives me a great feeling of satisfaction to cross off items that I have successfully completed.  Also, I think list-making motivates me to accomplish something important every day.

Bill Leavitt is a retired technical writer from Valparaiso.  He has taught at Purdue University Calumet and has a small consulting company.  An unusual activity for Bill is ski racing; he has qualified and raced at the national amateur championships numerous times (NASTAR) in Colorado.  Leavitt is author of a guide book to create a successful and active retirement, entitled Retirement: Life’s Greatest Adventure.  For more information or how to purchase, visit RetirementLifesGreatestAdventure.com.  The book can also be purchased for $13.00 (plus Indiana sales tax) at Remarkable Book Shop in Merrillville and the Visitor’s Center in Hammond (just off the Borman Expressway); or it can be ordered directly from Bill Leavitt, 417 Killarney Lane, Valparaiso, IN 46385 ($17, including tax and shipping).

10 Warning Signs and Symptoms

Alzheimer’s is a brain disease that causes a slow decline in memory, thinking and reasoning skills. There are 10 warning signs and symptoms. Every individual may experience one or more of these signs in different degrees. If you notice any of them, please see a doctor.

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life. One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same information over and over; increasingly needing to rely on memory aids (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to handle on their own.
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems. Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do things than they did before.
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure. People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar location, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a favorite game.
  4. Confusion with time or place. People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget where they are or how they got there.
  5. Trouble understanding visual images and relationships. For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determining color or contrast, which may cause problems with driving.
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing. People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “hand-clock”).
  7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps. A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time.
  8. Decreased or poor judgment. People with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities. A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social because of the changes they have experienced.
  10. Changes in mood and personality. The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anxious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone.

For more information, visit www.alz.org

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About Bill Leavitt

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All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Bill Leavitt is a technical writer from Valparaiso. After retiring from a large corporation in Chicago, he did technical writing consulting for many companies. He currently teaches part-time at Purdue University Calumet. You can order Leavitt’s book, “Retirement: Life’s Greatest Adventure,” by sending $16.65 (includes shipping and sales tax) made payable to Write On Technical Writing, Inc., P.O. Box 132,Valparaiso, IN 46384-0132. Or, visit RetirementLifesGreatestAdventure.com for more information.

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