Guest column: Overcoming frustration of forgetfulness

  • Col DS Cheema (Retd), None
  • Updated: Sep 13, 2015 21:59 IST

All body organs become less efficient after they are past their prime and need some boost for normal functioning. One of the adverse impacts of advancing age is fading memory and forgetfulness. This can sometimes become very frustrating and make life difficult. Though the present generation of elders is fitter and healthier than the elderly in the past, the problems of sapping memory seem to be on the rise. Medical science has not been able to invent any memory-enhancing drugs for the brain which can reinvigorate it or brain-pacemakers. Hence, we have no option but to evolve our own memory-management methods.

Last month, it seemed, I was experiencing that stage where forgetfulness could cause many avoidable difficulties and that is the time when I resolved to fix the problem. I had to reach the venue of a meeting before the chief guest’s arrival and had planned to leave the house 30 minutes earlier. When I was all set, I couldn’t locate the car keys and my reputation of a punctual soldier, built over 20 years, was mauled. I am certain even my profuse apologies did not sweeten the bad taste my action left — and all for not being able to recall where I had kept the keys last night.

Here are certain simple techniques which do not demand rigorous discipline and can be practiced easily. Practice of these has helped me to avoid many embarrassments.

First and foremost, accept that forgetfulness at your age is natural and there is nothing wrong with you. Unnecessary worrying can make you stressful and the problem can get aggravated further.

Do not depend too much on your memory. Write down or use phone/laptop, etc. (if you are techno-savvy) to record and remind you of what you want to do and when.

Sort out the clutter on study table, in kitchen, in lobby or in bed room. Have a large soft board on which papers can be pinned or stuck and messages can be written and erased at later stage. Use a calendar which has the largest possible date square to write down your important days/dates.

Always ensure writing/scribbling pads and pencils/pens are available at number of places in the house. These places could be the study table, bed-side table, dressing area, dining room, sitting room and so on. One set in the car is also a must. The idea is that as and when you recollect something or plan to do, write that down immediately without having to put in much effort to locate paper and pencil. It is a common experience that certain urgent things-to-do that come to your mind while going to sleep, if not scribbled there and then, may be lost forever as one may not be able to recall them at all.

Keep a thick sheet of 3x5 inches with what-to-do for the day in your pocket or wallet whenever you leave the house or place of work. Whenever one task has been completed, tick it off the list; doing so will remind you of what all are left undone. Always carry a pen whenever you leave the house.

Learn the technique of bunching the activities. A lot of time, effort and exasperation can be saved if you consciously bunch the activities which are inter-related or are physically close to each other. Before you leave the house, spend a few minutes to list what is to be done and in what order. How many times have you gone out to do a number of things and come back without finishing all the work? This can be avoided by investing a few minutes in planning.

Never forget the simple principle of keeping the things back from where they were picked up in the first place. Allot a specific location in the house where all keys are always kept. You will save a lot of time in finding them and will not get frustrated at your inability to remember where you had put a particular thing after using it.

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