Let's talk about memory function and age

I’m in my late 70’s. Generally good health. We travel a bit both with and without our camper. Frequent trips to a son whose settled some 650 miles away. When we travel, I can remember every turn and every exit. I can generally remember what exit has what restaurant or motel or whatever that we like. That’s the good news.

I’m an avid reader and can usually knock off a hard cover book in a few days. Today I finished a fairly good one and went to add it to my list on Goodreads. Turns out I read and reviewed the same damn book 4 years ago this month! Over 350 pages and never had the slightest twinge of memory. And this is the 2nd or 3rd time it’s happened!

It’s scary. Is it all downhill from here?

Meh. On this very message board I’ve read some provocative OPs and keyed in a response, only to realize shortly after that that

a) it was a resurrected zombie;

b) I had replied to it two times previously;

c) My replies had been pretty much identical all three times, and I’d put some thought into them.

Maybe you weren’t like that in your late 30s and 40s and 50s, but I was, so maybe I benefit from lowered expectations (i.e., I’ve always been a bit of a space cadet in certain ways). But seriously, I don’t think memory issues become a concern until you lose track of the people close to you in your life (i.e., not acquaintances, even if you partied with them in '06 and talked on into the night), your long-term address (the specific motel or ocean cruise cabin location do not count for this), or equivalents in central importance.

Part of aging, I think*, is realizing that a lot of this stuff is only of peripheral importance, transient, representative rather than fundamental.

  • I’m 65, so if not exactly qualified to impart the wisdom of the elderly to you, I’m at least trailing you by less than 2 decades and have given it some thought

Yeah, I"ve done the same thing, replied or started to reply to an old thread and then realized I’d already replied to it earlier, saying essentially the same thing. I expect that as time goes on the time it takes me to forget I’ve already replied will just keep getting shorter.

Yeah, I"ve done the same thing, replied or started to reply to an old thread and then realized I’d already replied to it earlier, saying essentially the same thing. I expect that as time goes on the time it takes me to forget I’ve already replied will just keep getting shorter.

“It’s all downhill from here” is my mantra.

I’m 70 and I’m starting to experience such occurrences of late. Makes me worry.

ISWYDT :wink:

It been all downhill from since you were ~30. You’re just now noticing.

As a mere stripling of 65 myself I definitely notice my ability to learn and retain transient info has deteriorated. And I often feel like I’m preoccupied with [whatever] so that much of the routine stimulus I’d have recorded and savored in years past simply slides by almost unnoticed now. I took notice at the time, but 2 hours later it’s like “Was she blonde or dark-haired? Was it Karen or Caitlin? Damn!”.

I’m much more distractable than I used to be. Is that a brain raised in the slow-paced 1960s having a bad reaction to the modern multi-tasking world of the 2020s or creeping stupidity? Hell if I know. I got a full mental functioning checkup late last year and the bottom line was “age-appropriate deterioration”. Gee thanks, Doc. I think. :wink:

As to books, I find them difficult now. Too long in one scenario and boredom sets in. So I find myself processing them, not reading them.

Does any of that feel familiar to you?

Out of curiosity - since I’m still a long ways off from age-related brain decline - do elderly people who know they’re about to go downhill in memory function put a lot of “precautions” in place - such as, for instance, writing reminders of what things are and taping them in front of doors, or objects?

Definitely. My wife (whose memory is worse than mine–she will be 86 next week) writes things down a lot. In particular our meal plan for the week. And I now try to keep an inventory of our freezer since she wants to order stuff we have a lot of.

And to answer the OP: downhill all the way.

Every day I wake up and realize that this is good as its gets, and thats OK because its still pretty good.

Well, when I was a kid I had a great memory, but it’s been going downhill since at least graduate school. I’m 41 now and I have lapses all the time. I also have ADHD and I do have my shit together better than I did ten years ago - Knowing what tricks I can use to help myself along - but I forget stuff I know all the time. I forget the names of people I’ve known for years. I forget my phone number. I forget celebrities and singers and people you’re just supposed to know. I forget why I walked into a room.

But I do remember important stuff, like details about the grants I’m writing, deadlines, etc so at least it’s not really affecting my work.

I often tell myself, “This is the youngest you’ll ever be again.”

I started a freezer inventory spreadsheet once. Last updated 1/25/2023… I don’t think it’s accurate.

Some Doper whose name I do not recall put it very pithily:

Today’s the oldest you’ve ever been. It’s also the youngest you’ll ever be.

Soon I’ll have outlived my late wife. Not long after I’ll have outlived my late father. Assuming I make it that far, which is quite likely if I can avoid accidents.

ETA: I just checked. I passed my late wife’s final age 2 weeks ago unnoticed. Crap. I’d pre-computed those dates so I could honor them on the occasion. So there’s yet another significant fact tid-bit I thought of, wrote down, and forgot in the doing.

I’m 70.
What I find is that I retain stuff I learnt when I was young (I still play chess to a high standard for example.)
However it takes longer for me to absorb new information.

I’m 73 and I’m already writing things on post-it notes and sticking them to my computer. And I write down lists of tasks that need to be done. I can’t count the number of sentences I get to the middle of and stop because I know there’s a word that’s exactly what I want to say and for the life of me I can’t think of it.

It’s all aging. I saw my mother-in-law succumb to deep dementia so I know that these lapses are not the same thing. Everybody goes through it. No president should be older than me. A few lucky people can coast into their 90s and seemingly stay intact. For the rest of us, it’s like a death of a thousand cuts and I hate every one.

Everything on the bottom of the list is still in the bottom of the freezer.

Yep. I recently started going to the local library. Made it completely through the first book and about 1/2 way through the second. No interest anymore.

Glad to see I’m not alone in this. For everyone reading this, invest in Post-it notes ASAP. They’re a lifesaver.

I’m pulling up on 72 and I’ve reached the point where I need to start making notes of things that need to be done. Things that are part of my regular routine, like feeding the cat, preparing meals, and cleaning the litter box (although the last occasionally get passed over for a day), get done with no problem. But other things need to be put on the dry-marker calendar or on post-it notes by the computer.

What concerns me most is some of the other things mentioned by other posters. Not being able to recall things that I used to know (thank Ghu for Wikipedia and IMDB!), losing track of what I’m saying to myself in mid-sentence, or not feeling like doing things because I don’t see the point.