Funny Memory Problems in the Elderly
Finding something funny in the following incidents is not a way to ridicule old folks, but to enjoy them. Even while we smile or laugh we remember everlasting principles like the following:
- Respect the elderly.
- Be sensitive to their memory problems.
- Treat them the way you want to be treated when you get old.
Sometimes, it is their response to their memory dilemma which makes us smile. We also we see various aspects our own future in the view these dear, elderly people present.
These incidents are from my personal observation files. Think about recording your own episodes of smiles with the elderly.
(1) Selective Memory
One of my best friends is a few years older than I am. We talk often, and like most old folks, he is likely to repeat a story two or three times in the same conversation. Honestly, I listen each time as graciously as I did the first time.
Well, my age also qualifies me to repeat my stories, but he never lets me. He interrupts with, “You told me that before.”
My concern is, if he can remember the stories I repeat, why cannot he remember the stories he repeats?
Sometimes, it seems that these old folks do have some control over what they choose to remember.
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(2) What Did He Remember?
It was a one-day seminar on the purity lifestyle. An attendee brought her aged father, because a mix up with the caregiver’s schedule left her no choice. The old man, in his late seventies, sat through the morning session seemingly deaf, mute, distant and near death. He paid no attention to anything that transpired.
In the afternoon, we began with a discussion on fashion. I held up a catalog and began turning the pages.
“Here are the bikinis. Let’s have a look.”
The old man awoke with a grunt. We could see enthusiasm coursing his body. After his failed attempt to stand up, he motioned for me to bring him the catalog.
Did he remember something? Or, was he responding to a physical stimulus that never dies, no matter how old the body gets?
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(3) Truth versus Consequence
My mother often gets confused about where she is. She packs her bags and talks about leaving to go home. On one such occasion, I sat in her room while she was packing and tried to jog her memory.
- “Mamma, we have lived in this house for more than forty years.”
- “See, we have the same neighbors we always had.”
- “If the house looks a bit strange, it’s only because we did some remodeling.”
She looked at me, and in a tone convincing beyond any doubt, scolded me. “You got a sin for everyone o’ dem lies you just told.”
Go Mamma! You may not remember the truth, but you remember the consequence of telling a lie.
(4) So I Can Dance?
The theme of the Women’s Conference was joy. In the opening session, the speaker spoke against inhibiting joy. She encouraged us to express our joy in ways that came naturally—shouting, sharing, clapping, dancing. The concept of a dancing Christian was surprising to an old woman who had lived a life restricted by her fundamentalist ideas. She had never even tapped her foot to the rhythm of a song.
After the session, the organizers pushed aside the chairs, played upbeat gospel music, and encouraged the women to express their joy in dance. The old woman, probably the oldest attendee, approached the speaker and asked to make sure that it was alright for her to dance.
“Of course,” the speaker affirmed. “I’m sure you have many reasons to be joyful.”
The woman’s flashed a smile as bright as the sunrise. She headed off to the dance floor with a prayer, “Lord, please help me to remember every joy I ever had.”
Her intention was to make up for all the times she should have danced, but did not.
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(5) Wit Outlasts Memory
All that I know about my father, I learned from his mother and his siblings. My mother never talked about him, and I have my own assumption about the reason for her silence.
Anyway, one day while she was reminiscing about some of her deceased relatives—her mother, her sister, her brother—I thought there was a chance to have her include my father in her memories. Perhaps, she would affirm my opinion.
“So what do you remember about my father?”
Without any delay, she answered with another question. “Since when are you interested in dead people?”
My mother has the most humorous mix of wit and memory residue.
© 2014 Dora Isaac Weithers
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