By Dr. Jack Marrion
Every week I walk with a friend and we finish up with a cup of coffee and pastry at the coffee shop. Occasionally, when my friend is making his pastry choice, he’ll think of one, say the name of another, and then have to correct himself. He’s done this for twenty years! He always tells the "twenty-something" clerk that he is having a senior moment. I’m always telling him to stop saying that because when people under age thirty hear that phrase from anyone with gray hair, they often assume the older person is advancing quickly into dementia and may not make it through the dessert.
One thing that terrifies most of us about growing older is losing our mental powers. However, most of the time, a senior moment doesn’t mean we’ve lost it; it just means our minds are busy with something else, and our mind will come back to us with the answer shortly. Here are some ways to tell the difference between having a senior moment and actual senility:
Senior Moment – forgetting someone’s name
Senility – forgetting your own name
Senior Moment – misplacing your car keys
Senility – looking at the car keys and wondering what they do
Senior Moment – thinking it’s Tuesday on Wednesday
Senility – thinking it’s 1964
Senior Moment – not figuring out how to set the alarm on your cell phone
Senility – not knowing how to dial your cell phone
Senior Moment – telling the grandkids the same fishing story you told them last year
Senility – telling the grandkids the same fishing story you told them five minutes ago
Senior Moment – confusing 11:00 with 11:55 on your wristwatch
Senility – not knowing what a wristwatch is for
Senior Moment – forgetting a word you know when writing a complete sentence
Senility – not being able to write a sentence
The other reality is you’re probably okay. The vast majority of people meet their maker with their mental faculties intact. If you are concerned about your own or someone else’s possible dementia, your physician can conduct a couple of simple mental tests that will indicate whether there is a problem.
We all forget things from time to time; your brain is working pretty much the way it always has. So, quit worrying and have a pastry!