We’ve all experienced them at one time or another. Those lapses in memory that can often be either embarrassing or hilarious.
Though they can happen at any age, they do seem to happen more as we age and thus have come to be known as “senior moments.”
Simply put, research indicates that the clutter in our memory banks can cause these retrieval problems. Unscientifically, it’s a “brain fart.” Experience indicates they can also happen to the young.
Senior moments can happen to an individual or to groups of people. Not long ago, I entered a room for an exercise class where two women were trying to identify a woman who had been absent for several months.
“What’s that woman’s name?” they pleaded in frustration. I turned away to put my purse down and, thankfully, when I turned around the name came to me. Problem solved. The three of us were relieved.
On another occasion three friends were trying to think of the name of a woman they had all known for years. Their conversation took place midday and it was about 5 p.m. that day when the woman who initiated the conversation came up with the name which she dutifully called the others to share so no sleep would be lost that night.
I reached out to friends about this topic and found no shortage of examples. For example, whether you are in your 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s or more, you’ve likely experienced one classic senior moment. It’s the one where you walk into a room and you ask yourself “What did I come in here for?”
John Galvan, 66, a former furniture restoration shop owner with a specialty in pianos, knows that one well. In his case, he eventually realized that he was “there” looking for an aspirin.
How about the one where you are tearing the house upside down looking for your glasses when you suddenly realize “they are sitting on top of my head.” That’s the one Phyllis Gutierrez, 65, who served as a riveter at Cessna, recalls.
And then there’s the time my husband, a retired journalist, was in search of his hearing aids prior to setting out for a movie. The two of us went upstairs, downstairs and all around the house. Both of us kept walking from room to room, floor to floor because we kept hearing that familiar noise – that sound hearing aids periodically make when their batteries run low. We kept thinking we were getting closer. Then nothing. We finally gave up, deciding to sit close enough to the screen for him to hear. We started walking the two blocks to the theater and en route I heard that familiar sound again.
“What’s that damn sound?” I asked.
“Oh,” he said sheepishly, “I think that’s my hearing aids.” They were in his pocket all that time.
Connie Reissig, 71, a former licensed insurance agent, says she really doesn’t have any senior moments to report “other than putting the coffee pot in the fridge, or a pan in the microwave,”
punctuating that with an LOL. Recently, she also remembers getting ready to leave for a medical appointment and immediately forgetting how to get there. “I calmed myself down and, like magic, the route to the office came back to me.”
She may be a
senior now, but Irene Follin, 67, remembers a “junior” moment when she was in her 30s, working full time and raising three children. The former administrative assistant at an engineering services company recalls that she was on her way home after work one day and managed to pass the street where she lived not once, not twice, but three times.
And John and Martha McEachern of Newton remember what may be labeled a “senior moment squared.” He taught at West High in Wichita before retirement and she served as a national account executive for Sherwin-Williams. Now in their 80s, they were all packed and ready to head to their son’s vacation home in Colorado. They got a late start on their trip, so by the time they arrived in Goodland they were ready to call it a day. Martha asked John to retrieve their large bag from their truck. He returned to report that there was only a duffle bag with their fishing gear in it.
“I thought you brought the big suitcase down from upstairs,” Martha said. Like an echo, he responded with the same words. Translation: No clothes or personal hygiene items for a several days trip. An emergency shopping stop was made en route.
How many times have you tried to introduce a new person to an old friend or acquaintance and remember the name of the “newbie” but draw a total blank on the name of the person you have known for years. Nan Porter, a retired psychotherapist, recently experienced that one and is still red-faced about it.
Here’s a helpful hint to deal with that one. As a defensive measure, a friend of mine and I have made a pact that when there’s a hesitation in such introductions we intervene by extending our hand and saying our name. It can save plenty of embarrassing moments. If you can uhhhh just remember to do that.
Elvira Crocker is a board member of the active age. Contact her at email@example.com