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Funny Memory Problems in the Elderly

Updated on August 31, 2017
MsDora profile image

MsDora, former teacher and counselor, is fascinated by the study of healthy aging and loves to share the information she finds.

Mrs. Louise Isaac, age 99 in this picture, turned 100 in 2014 with memory in tact.
Mrs. Louise Isaac, age 99 in this picture, turned 100 in 2014 with memory in tact. | Source

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.


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?


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?

Senior mates remembering their wedding anniversary.
Senior mates remembering their wedding anniversary. | Source

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.


5) Wit Outlasts Memory

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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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    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Prayers are always welcome.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Don, thanks for your comment. If memory is your only problem, that wouldn't be so bad, but unfortunately, they would know for other reasons. Anyway, I just said a prayer for you that you'll be fine to the very end.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 2 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I am the youngest of four children. Memory problems have hit my siblings and I hope it doesn't affect me, but what are the odds? When my oldest brother got Alzheimer's disease we never heard of it. Some say that if I got it nobody would no the difference because I always had a problem remembering things.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Mary, I think many of us share your fear; but let's not allow it to disturb our lives now. Thanks for your comment.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Mona, thanks for the comment and the sharing. I appreciate you.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 2 years ago from Florida

      Both my parents died before the age of 60, so they never lived long enough to suffer from memory problems. My greatest fear is I will live long enough to develop dementia. I would not want my family to have to deal with it.

      Beautiful Hub, voted up, etc..

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 years ago from Philippines

      This is such a beautiful article. Voted up and shared.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thank you, Rasta. You made my day!

    • rasta1 profile image

      Marvin Parke 3 years ago from Jamaica

      This is a controversial title and you did it justice.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Bill, I appreciate your kind words. You're a continual source of encouragement.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 3 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi MsDora,

      I've experienced so many different emotions while reading this. Thanks again for another enjoyable read and for the way you make us think.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Junko, you're very welcome. Thanks for your visit.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Lisa, you've taught me something: "Never try to bring them back to their reality, let them enjoy the memories of the past." Thank you for your very helpful comment.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Stages, I really appreciate your comment. I take your counsel to heart: "cling to every word and hold it close." Precious!

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Patsybell. Really happy that you enjoy my articles.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Shyron, you're blessed with some good genes. I'm sure you have tons of good memories about life with your folks. The B I B L E legend is interesting. Thanks!

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Nell, I'm glad that the article brought you some good memories. Sounds like that trip was really fun. Thank you for sharing.

    • junko profile image

      junko 3 years ago

      Thanks

    • lisavanvorst profile image

      Lisa VanVorst 3 years ago from New Jersey

      A very nice respectful hub, as it should be. I work in a nursing home with residents with Dementia/Alzheimer's. We as health care professional must go back to their world. The world they are leaving in now and let them enjoy their memories. Never try to bring them back to their reality, let them enjoy the memories of the past. When our residents get older their remote memory (long term memory is the best). Short term memory is the first to go. I am a Recreation Director and many of our elderly residents are looking for their children (who are grown in and in their 60's). I often tell my residents "The children are fine and they are in school, when they get home the will come to your ladies club, for now come enjoy the company of the other ladies". For our male residents they get up early thinking they still need to go to work. We in Recreation find things they can do resembling their past roles (jobs). One man was a janitor, we got him a broom and dustpan and also a washcloth to wipe the tables off. Dementia is scary for them and we in health care must make it adjustable and respect who they are now.

    • The Stages Of ME profile image

      The Stages Of ME 3 years ago

      MsDora,

      There is such beauty in the wisdom of our elderly. They deserve our honor and respect and you have done that beautifully here in this hub. Memory of mind is fleeting at best in those growing closer to their journey's end, however, when they break through with clarity, we should cling to every word and hold it close. Blessing to you dear Lady.

    • Patsybell profile image

      Patsy Bell Hobson 3 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

      What a wonderful story. Your hubs are heartwarming. Voted up, UBI, shared.

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      MsDora, this is wonderful, a thumb-up, UABI and will share.

      My grandmother was 95 and her mother was 113, but I don't think either had a memory problem. My grandmother made her own funeral arrangements for ICU.

      I think reading the BIBLE helps. B asic I nstructions B efore L eaving E arth.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

      Thats such a lovely article MsDora, and it made me smile and laugh too, especially number 3! LOL! I love the humor of older people. We went down to the coast one day by coach, me my brother and my son, just for a laugh, and most of the people on board were over 65. Well, the trip down was the best out of all the day! we laughed, sang told jokes and the elders were hysterical! what a great trip! and this article is a great reminder to remember and respect them, because they are awesome! voted up and shared, nell

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Colleen, thanks for your observation. I believe that.

    • Colleen Swan profile image

      Colleen Swan 3 years ago from County Durham

      I often find that if one ignores the age and treats old people as though they are young they become younger or at least feel younger.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Janis, I wish that for you and me both. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Dianna, I agree. The wisdom they share is incredible, and yes, they deserve all our respect.

    • WriterJanis profile image

      Janis 3 years ago from California

      If I end up starting to forget things when I get older, I hope I will at least keep my wit.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      I have great respect for our elderly. If one would only take the time to listen to them - the wisdom learned would be so valuable! I love this tribute and message on how people age and battle the process of memory.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Jodah, enjoy the memories of good times with your parents. Thanks for your input.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Travel Man, thank you for sharing your Mom's story. I looked up "barangay." Her willingness to serve will enhance her overall health. Enjoy your time with her.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Manatita, thanks for your prayers and good wishes.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      This is a wonderful hub MsDora. The elderly deserve all our respect. I have always enjoyed the company of the elderly and am often amazed at how quick witte an humorous they can be. Both of my parents are now gone but they were always witty and joking to the end. Thank you for sharing this.

    • travel_man1971 profile image

      Ireno Alcala 3 years ago from Bicol, Philippines

      Hahaha! What did he remember? That's what I started laughing, Ms. D! Anyway, my mother is 77 now. I'm the one who used to accompany her now since most of my elder brothers and sisters are already married or working overseas.

      Just of late (Sept.19,2014), we're going to the city to buy groceries. I sprayed perfume on her hair until I came up with her pants. She scolded me and told me that she just took a bath (nothing smelly from her waist down).Oh, my! Hahaha!

      But my mom is still very active as a health volunteer in our barangay.

      I have much respect for the elders. Although, I had to raise my voice whenever my mom would her my answer to her queries. She's getting deaf and yet, she don't want to use hearing aide. She said, it tickles her ear.(sighs. okay.)

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 years ago from london

      Hey, hey ... God wanted you to see this. I had erased it, or so I thought. Who can tell the ways of the Lord? Anyway, So pleased to hear of the wife of your late great uncle. Very much alive, she looks, yes.

      Yes, I know of your mom, as you had told me. What can I say? I pray for strength and fortitude so that you will do your best with a stronger heart. God's peace to her and all involved.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Manatita, thanks for sharing your observations. The woman in the picture is the wife of my late great uncle. The whole community rallied out earlier this year to celebrate her birthday--even some villagers who live abroad came home for the event. Notice, I mentioned that her memory is still in tact; not so with my mother.

      Thanks also for the assurance in your personal comment.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 years ago from london

      Dee, is this your mom? I do not recall you telling me that she is that old. My sincere felicitations.

      Big one, the problem of memory disturbances. More and more of us are meeting with this experience in one form or the other.

      Wit: A supreme tool for comfort at such times. Music is cool, too. Higher blessings to you, family and especially mom.

      P.S. Your place in my heart is very special. You must never doubt.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Blond Logic, you had a champion woman for a mother. Thanks for sharing your memories. They're precious.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 3 years ago from Brazil

      My mother too came out with some gems but you are right wit does out last the memory.

      We are a family of game players and I think that skill stays as well as wit. My mother was always wiping the floor with us when we played Scrabble even right up to the end of her life.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Sheila, thanks for your comment. I have always appreciated conversation with the elderly; they do share a lot of wisdom.

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 3 years ago

      There are times I have to control myself so I don't laugh at an older person for something they say that think is serious and I think they're joking. I've never heard of someone like your story about the woman and dancing, but that would be one of those times I'd have to stop myself from laughing. I love being around the elderly even when they repeat stories because there's always something we can learn from them no matter how old we get.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks Elle. Concerning your aging parents, enjoy them, cherish them, love them all you can.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Frank, God be with you all the way to 100! I subscribe to your observation: memory makes life.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      LoveDoc, thanks for your input. It is a mystery how much Alzheimer's patients say and do in common. Well, caregivers have similar responses too. Glad you enjoyed the post.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks Rachel. I'm glad that you have the presence of mind to learn from other seniors despite your unfortunate loss. Life usually compensates.

    • elle64 profile image

      elle64 3 years ago from Scandinavia

      Great advice- my parents are getting older now, and I find it hard to think about one day they will not be around anymore.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

      MsDora I personally don't mind hitting 100 god bless that woman.. but I too need my mind intact.. for me life is what you remember in the past..lose that lose life.. Great hub yet again my dear friend :)

    • profile image

      lovedoctor926 3 years ago

      My mother is 64 yrs old & was recently diagnosed w/ dementia. Truth vs. Consequences describes my mom the same exact way. She is always confused & says she wants to go home or she often asks us when we're taking her home. She doesn't recognize her room either what a shame & since they can't reason we try not too give too much detail. I also use the we're remodeling our house approach since we remodeled both the master bathroom as well as the other bathroom. Sometimes they're regressing& they start to remember things from the past. Good post voted up!

    • RachaelOhalloran profile image

      Rachael O'Halloran 3 years ago from United States

      You are so very fortunate to have senior folks around you so you can experience the world through their eyes. My family is gone and they did not enjoy co-existence in my world in their later years, by choice. So I live vicariously through others recollections and experiences of their seniors. This article was beautiful to me.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Flourish, your mother's line is a classic for the funnies, and damnesia sounds like the perfect word. Thanks for your humorous contribution.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Jo, thanks for sharing your observation. As we grow older the beautiful and the sad combine sometime equally. We have to enjoy what we have on a daily basis.

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      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Around here we joking call memory issues "damnesia.". It was an invented name after my mother got stuck on recalling something and said "Dammit, you'd think I had amnesia.". Gotta learn to laugh at ourselves and have fun with one another. I like the examples you use of your mom and the older gentleman with the photos. He recalled more than he thought he did.

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      Jo Alexis-Hagues 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

      MsDora, this is beautiful and sad, but also humorous and thought-provoking. Your mum's selective razor-like wit reminded me of my own mother's. One of the saddest things about growing old, is the lost of those precious memories.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Jackie, you dealt with your mother very wisely. We have to know our loved ones' capabilities and act accordingly. Thank you very much for your input.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Marlene, glad you got a laugh. This is the kind of fun I experience ever so often. If she thought that I wouldn't be interest in dead people, why was she telling these stories? She still knows how to use the defense mechanism.

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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Not a problem, Word. All in the family!

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      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Thank you so much for sharing that Dora. My mother had Alzheimer's but she never stopped knowing right from wrong and I thank God for that. We did have many fun times and laughs about her memory (I took care of her the last few years) and against the advice you read about today telling you to tell them the truth always; I never let my mother know that the husband she thought was off gallivanting had really been dead for years. I think mercy has a firm place in their latter days for if the mom I knew really thought he was out gallivanting she would be the first one out the door to track him down! lol

      ^+

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      Marlene Bertrand 3 years ago from Northern California, USA

      MsDora, these are such funny stories. I especially like your mother's response about since when are you interested in dead people. I am still chuckling over that one. I also imagine the look on her face, just as puzzled as ever, not realizing that she just reminisced about people from her past. I enjoyed your stories a lot.

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      Word 3 years ago from Chicago

      Yes MsDora, I was a summing that that was your mom in the picture but anyway, thank you for straightening it out.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Devika, I hope you find a way to re-establish connection with your parents. Nowadays connection can be maintained despite distance. We want to share as much of their lives as we possibly can.

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      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I live much further away from my parents and feel I have lost the connection. When they get much older and even now I don't know how that will be not being there for them. They yeas go by so fast and the precious life has goes by unnoticed. You are right love shows more when older.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Denise, thanks for sharing that experience. Family becomes more precious and more connected the older we get. We really learn to love, then.

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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Hi Word, Mrs. Isaac in the photo is my great aunt-in-law, but I'll take the compliment for her. She does look great! Thanks for your kind words.

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      Denise W Anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      It is amazing what we can learn when we are in the presence of those who are near the end of their lives! I was with my mother-in-law before she passed away, and as I stood next to her, I could feel her closeness with those of her loved ones that had passed on before her. I felt her immense love for them, and her longing to be with them. She spoke of them as if they were ever present before her, and perhaps they were!

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Sally, it is great that we can always find something redemptive about the situation. Thanks for your validation.

    • word55 profile image

      Word 3 years ago from Chicago

      Hi MsDora,

      This was another great hub. Your mom looks very well. You're doing a wonderful job. Keep smiling and be blessed!

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Lori, thanks for sharing that. They teach us how to enjoy old blessings again and again. How precious!

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Dr. Billy Kid, you must have a lot of sweet memories. That's a blessing!

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Ah, Bill. Make the most of your memories; laugh at them over and over. Thanks for your comment.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Isaac Weithers 3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Colorful, I am also my Alzheimer's mother PCA. You understand how charming that wit can be. Thanks for weighing in.

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      Sally Gulbrandsen 3 years ago from Norfolk

      MsDora

      This is a beautiful hub about a subject which is very dear to my heart. I work with a lady who shows signs of short term memory loss and dementia. When I take her for a drive, she always points out to me, the homes in which worked as a domestic help in her earlier life. I deliberately drive past the same houses each time she comes with me - just so that she can point them out again to me as we travel by. It gives me infinite pleasure, to know that though she forgets what she ate for lunch or dinner last night, she never forgets the people or the homes she has worked in. I so relate to this hub and to the lovely images you have used. Voted up, beautiful, interesting and shared, google+

      Thank you

      Sally.

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      Lori Colbo 3 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      MsDora, this is utterly amusing and heartwarming. The first two were my favorites. One thing I have found amusing is when you give someone with memory issues such as you mentioned a card for any occasion, it is a new blessing every time they pick it up and read it. Someone will visit, maybe even the person who sent it, and they will say "Look at the card I just got in the mail. Wasn't that thoughtful of so and so?" The card may be 8 months old. Being witness to such a thing is such a blessing.

    • Dr Billy Kidd profile image

      Dr Billy Kidd 3 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      My father told jokes until he died at 92!

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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A lovely article, Dora. I wish my dad had lived a long life...he would have been a hoot in his later years. Sigh! :)

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      Susie Lehto 3 years ago from Minnesota

      Aw, yes that wit can be sharp when my Mom who suffers from Alzheimer's disease wants to use hers. I am her PCA and live with her so she can be at home. One evening as we talked back and forth, out of the blue, she said, "I can still out wit you." So! That wit must be pretty important to have and be able to use when needed. Yes, I do smile a lot at that wit of hers.