Better than an Orgasm?

Gloria Steinem said not long ago, “At this age, remembering something is better than having an orgasm.” I get it. You try and try, then you stop trying, you think about the weather, you forget the whole thing and then, out of nowhere, bam! Here it somes. The name or word you couldn’t remember.

But how do you know if you’ve just had an age-related memory slip or if Alzheimer’s is knocking at your door?

For me, the alarm went off when I received an email from a woman whose name I did not recognize. “Hey,” she wrote, “I’m coming to Denver Friday for the state Democratic convention.” She asked if we could have dinner and could she possibly stay at my house?

Her name was vaguely familiar but I couldn’t pull up any associations. I went through the people I know who’re active in politics — nothing. I googled the woman, even saw a picture of her and still couldn’t place her. Either she knew me well enough to invite herself to stay at my home or she had outrageous chutzpah.

I sent her a cautious email. “Hi, I’m in California now so I’ll miss your visit to Denver. Really sorry. I must tell you I’ve been having memory problems lately. I have the sense that we’ve seen each other recently, but can’t bring up details. Could you remind me?”

I didn’t hear back, so I dismissed it as a crank email. The next day, while having lunch, it suddenly came to me. Oh my God! She’s the woman I stayed with for a week in Aspen while I was taking a course, “The Magic of Skiing.” She’s a friend of a friend and had generously offered to put us both up. We ate meals together, I met her family and we exchanged emails afterward. And that was only three months ago!

I rushed to the computer and sent an email telling her what had happened and that of course I remember her and she’s welcome in my house any time. She responded, “You had me worried there.”

The good news was: I did remember, it just took time. The bad news was: this was the most egregious of an accelerating string of memory lapses.

I called a friend, Cathryn Ramin, who wrote the ur-text on memory loss, “Carved in Sand: When Attention Fails and Memory Fades in Midlife.” In her 40’s, Cathryn started forgetting names of friends and common objects and had trouble focusing on her work. She made herself a guinea pig, taking batteries of tests and trying many interventions suggested by doctors and researchers who work on the cutting edge of memory and brain studies.

Cathryn Ramin

After speaking with her, I realized my issue is not just memory but distractibility. Here’s an example: I’ll walk to my office with a check I just received in the mail and on the way, I see a book I need to look at and laundry that needs to be moved from the washer to the dryer and when I arrive at my desk, the check is not in my hands. I retrace my steps and don’t see it anywhere. Sometimes I never find the damn thing again and wonder, was it snatched into a fourth dimension?

Cathryn thought I should get tested for adult ADD. I protested: That can’t be me. I sit at my desk all day and write with total concentration. I’m learning piano and can focus on that for hours. How could I have ADD?And even if I do, I don’t want to take Ritalin or any drug. I’m hyper sensitive to meds and they all have side effects.

“Okay then,” Cathryn said. “There’s a happier solution: You can create scaffolds for yourself that will help you focus and remember.”

The first step, she said, is to create electronic records of everything. “Become a compulsive calendar person. Stop writing your appointments in a paper diary (which I was still doing) and put everything in iCal or some other computer program. Write down every place you go, whom you see, the address and phone. It creates a record, and you can set an alarm to remind you of each appointment. Then you sync the computer calendar with the one on your phone.”

Next, she said, I shouldn’t make lists on scraps of paper in my bedroom, the kitchen and the notebook I always carry in my purse. She told me to keep lists on the computer and sync them with my phone. I had no idea how to do that, but I learned and it did bring relief. Wherever I am, I can add to or check the list on my phone or computer. No more hunting desperately for that scrap of paper that seems to have combusted in thin air. And of course I can’t remember what was on it.

When I received that email from the woman I couldn’t place, I could have searched my email and calendar and her past emails would have popped right up. But I didn’t think to do that.

The second intervention, Cathryn said, was to stop things disappearing from my hands. She told me to put a plastic bin or other special container in each room. “Put everything important – papers, glasses, mail, keys, the earrings you just took off – into the nearest bin until you’re ready to take it to its final destination.

“Every object in your life should have a permanent home, where you always put it,” she said. “If you’re holding something in your hand, put it in the nearest airstrip for departure to its home. Leave it there until you’re ready to take it to its home and when you do, hold it up and watch at it as you walk. Don’t put it down. That’s your mantra: DO NOT PUT IT DOWN!”

This sounds absurd but I was willing to try anything. I put special bowls in my bedroom, bathroom, even my clothes closet and, to my surprise, it worked! I haven’t lost anything from my hands in quite a while.

It’s really about being mindful, 100% of the time. Focus on what you’re doing while you’re doing it. Don’t multi task, don’t even think about other things you need to do and if you catch yourself, bring your attention back to the task at hand.

I’ve found that these days, I cannot talk about complex matters while I’m driving or I’ll end up at the wrong place. I can’t think about a different project while I’m cooking or the food burns.

It’s about bringing mindfulness to all parts of life, which is a good thing to practice. Not easy, no one can do it all the time, but it’s a goal to aim for. And I’m seeing results: fewer memory lapses and less stress and worry about the whole issue.

While I was putting the “scaffolds” in place, though, I remembered visiting a friend in her late 60’s who had put post-its on her TV, DVD player and other devices to remind her how to use them. Is that what’s ahead?

Do you have experience with this or any other suggestions?

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT.

A BOOK TO REMEMBER

Sally Kempton has just published “Meditation for the Love of It,” with a heartfelt introduction by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of “Eat Pray Love.” I’ve known Sally since the ‘60s, when we were starting out as journalists in New York. She was the smartest, wittiest woman I knew, an early feminist who surprised many when she became a disciple of Swami Muktananada. She’s been meditating daily and teaching for 40 years, and she brings her full arsenal of talents to this book — a practical guide on how and why to meditate, for beginners as well as long practitioners. While many start meditating to feel better, Sally says the real goal is to connect with our hearts — it’s “like a love affair with your innermost self.” To read more, click here.

WHAT BOOKS HAVE YOU LOVED?

My life feels richer when I’m engrossed in a novel, and I’m always looking for terrific ones to read. I like novels and nonfiction that are beautifully written and have wonderfully realized characters that pull you into their world and make it hard to tear yourself away. Examples are “The Invisible Bridge” by Julie Orringer and “Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese. Please let me know if you have any to suggest. Thanks!

 

—————

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51 thoughts on “Better than an Orgasm?

  1. Anonymous

    Well, sorry to hear you are in the great hereafter: Go into a room and can't remember what you are here after!

    When I started having the same issues you are, one of my older lady friends told me that joke, which is true! I guess laughing at ourselves can't hurt either!

    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    I have a refrigerator magnet with a saying by George Burns which is my mnemonic reference: “First you forget names, then you forget faces. Next you forget to pull your zipper up and finally you forget to pull it down.” I am still at stage one.

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  3. Anonymous

    I like the ideas that were suggested. However, I could not function without my Sierra Club engagement calendar. I take it everywhere. I do think the bin idea is a good one. I was losing my keys and glasses all the time but now have spares. It seems like when you have a lot on your mind, that's when things tend to disappear. Good article!

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  4. Denton L. Watson

    You are right, Sara. “Your problem” seems to be be norm as we advance in age – notice I did not say get older. For me, because I have been maintaining such a very hectic research/writing schedule for so long (31 years) involving The Papers of Clarence Mitchell Jr., I realize that mental exhaustion is a normal part of life. Still, I cannot help but worry about that other monster — alzheimbers. So to keep down the anxiety level, I try to be much more aware of putting things in places that are historically familiar. At the same time, though, I dread that day when retirement really comes knocking at my door. Meantime, I will just keep on writing and editing to keep my mind active.
    Denton (Class of '65)

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  5. Margaret Pevec. MA

    Thanks for writing this. I've been experiencing the same things for several years now. I'm glad you pointed out that it's often a function of attention. I can't remember being so easily pulled off focus in the past, but really it's only when I don't have something compelling to stay focused upon. There is shame attached to these lapses as well, and so much fear about Alzheimers, which is probably why no one talks about it at any helpful depth in conversation. We're all laughing nervously at ourselves, and trying not to notice too much. I laughed out loud at your statement: I haven't lost anything from my hands in quite a while! I've taken to carrying a basket from the house to the car and back in an attempt to remember the myriad of things that I might need when I go out.

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  6. Linda

    Wow, Sara! DId your story resonate with me. I am overwhelmed by small details that I can't track down and have had to learn a whole new set of systems, like keeping my calender and my phone synced, by learning to search my email for those pesky moments when I can't remember who someone is or where I saw them last, etc.

    I haven't tried “the bowl in the room” strategy, but just today I lost–again, for the second time–a pair of earrings I swear I put on the kitchen counter. Gone, gone, gone. And not on my jewelry holder where for God's sake I know I just put them yesterday. I used to turn my watch upside down to remind myself to do something specific the next day, but now I find I can't remember why I turned it upside down to being with!

    I think you are right that our distractibility is the root cause. Also, we are just plain getting older and we need to accept that and find new ways of dealing with things, as you've suggested. I am now totally reliant on my computer and try to resist scribbling things of piece of paper rather than entering them on the computer or the calendar, but I'm not perfect at it. Yet. After your blog I am more determined that ever to be so! WIsh us all luck as we try these new systems to help us with our “senior moments!”
    Best, Linda Sexton

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  7. Steve Moler

    Great topic, because at age 57 I'm having similar problems. I often wonder if the onset of dementia is upon me. One technique I've used recently to improve memory recall is to take the time to allow information to transfer from short- to long-term memory. We spend so much of our time on auto-pilot, trying to do multiple tasks while thinking about other lesser things. In my younger days, my brain was nimble enough to handle this. Not anymore. So, when I'm doing something important, I pause and concentrate on what I'm doing for about 5-10 extra seconds. For example, if I set a letter or check on a table while looking for my car keys, I sit there for about 5 extra seconds and, staring at the item, tell myself, “I have to remember this, I have to remember this.” That little bit of extra time, just a few seconds, allows the transfer of the information from short-term into long-term memory. Once there, I usually can recall the information, or at least have a better chance of remembering. Just a thought.

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  8. Anonymous

    Dear Sara,

    Mindfulness=Awareness of the present moment with acceptance.

    I hear your concerns. AD will be a challenge for our generation. Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment. There are some intriguing diagnostic tools…but then what?

    I have offered a comment to you before as a Western trained Internist/Geriatrician.

    For both professional and personal reasons, I have matriculated to Naropa University at the “ripe-young age” of 59 YO. The experience has been humbling and extremely valuable. I understand that I am the second Western trained MD (University of Pittsburgh '77) to go through the program.

    Yes, I understand the value of concentration, mindfulness…and the importance of loving kindness to self and to all of those whom we touch in our world.

    Namaste.

    Anonymous

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  9. suzina

    Well, I can't agree that remembering what you have forgotten is anywhere close to having a great orgasm, but that is just me! (LOL). Yup, I too have been grappeling with memory problems, and distractibility. I have chalked it up to menopause, but also think stress has alot to do with it. I have been operating on a lot of stress, like many of us out there. I think I was somewhat out of my body when I was trying to do all things well, and not doing well at all. My body and mind are telling me that this is not going to work anymore.

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  10. Richard Shane

    Hi Sara,

    Thanks for your column. My solution, which I offer you:

    Digital voice recorder (DVR) (I have this already written out in detail because I periodically send people this info.)

    Very small, fits in your pocket. For recording everything from your everyday to-do thoughts, to profound insights you have about life. You can record while walking, driving, etc. Then your brain doesn't waste unnecessary energy trying to keep track of things, so your brain can feel calmer and quieter. This is a great feeling of effortlessly retaining what you want. With this, I retain 95% of the thoughts I want to retain. And there are also things I don't record because I want to remember them in my brain, not just with reminders—but it's great to have the choice.

    Usually first thing in the morning, I sit at computer, listen to previous day's recording, and put everything where it is most useful. No annoying (stressful) messes of many pieces of paper!

    The best one (smallest and ridiculously long recording time on one AAA battery) is:

    Olympus WS-600S
    Radio Shack – $79.97

    When you get it, the directions are impossible. Call me and I'll teach you how to use it—5 minutes.

    Richard shane

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  11. Grace M.

    Dear Sara,
    I so enjoy your e-mails and your blog and loved your story about the woman whom you couldn't remember – it was hilarious!
    I have an iPhone (they automatically synch wirelessly over the air with your computer now, you don't even have to do it manually!). I use all types of electronic reminders, but it's a slippery slope because our society is a multi-tasking one that moves faster and faster – how many times do we look around and everyone around us is busily typing into a smartphone, texting, e-mailing and setting up those reminders!! It's so easy to be distracted – and it's a real red flag to me when I begin to misplace items. I agree with you 100% – nothing takes the place of being present in the moment and focusing on what is going on in front of me.
    Thanks for the reminder!

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  12. Mona

    My friend and I have the same issues as you!My friend even had a piece of paper with your friends book written on it Carved in Sand, that she forgot about until I read her your article!
    These were good suggestions and ones I follow as much as I can. I have certain places I keep things until they go “home”. I put things in the same places as much as I can.
    I am in IT and the multi tasking continues to the distraction of everything else. It is so hard to take time to focus on things.
    I will try to from here on out!
    Thanks for sending this out!

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  13. Sean

    Sara, as always you inspire, and those of us lucky enough to know you through your words are indeed fortunate. I am constantly reminded that in 75 years there is much that I've forgotten, and it's especially disconcerting when just moments ago it was there in my hand. Thank you for the fun approach to memory. For me, first a PDA and presently an iPhone, which has a camera to record events, a recorder to leave messages and the calendar to set alarms to remind me of appointments, anniversaries, and important dates. Now if only I could figure out where the darn iPhone was!
    Sean

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  14. Sean

    Sara, while on this topic there is a wonderful program ongoing at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles called MINDFUL AWARENESS, which I find most enjoyable, as well as helpful as we grow in age. A fun option for those near LA. All the best,
    Sean

    Mindful Awareness is the moment-by-moment process of actively and openly observing one’s physical, mental, and emotional experiences. Mindfulness has scientific support as a means to reduce stress, improve attention, boost the immune system, reduce emotional reactivity, and promote a general sense of health and well-being.

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  15. Anonymous

    Hi Sara,
    I actually think there is a benefit to writing down on paper, in handwriting, one's schedule. While it may not be as easy to reproduce and send to various electronic gadgets, I think it encodes into memory better than an electronic interface. I think it uses more of the whole brain than electronic entry does.

    I agree whole heartedly about the importance of mindful attention to one thing at a time, rather than multitasking. I agree too with the idea of homes and zones to put things in.

    Thanks for the interesting conversations.

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  16. Photos by Elizabeth

    It's possible to be an artist or writer and have ADD. I'm 59 and tell people that I'm not worried about losing my memory, since I was born without one. I avoid distraction when working, and keep clutter out of my life; papers, people, emotions, worries, stuff that doesn't work right or fit into place make it impossible for me to function. I pray when all else fails. It helps, too, if you like old people so that you don't mind being one. Youth is overrated.

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  17. Jaclyn E

    Maria Shriver once said (paraphrase) that “Alzheimers is not forgetting where you put your keys, it's not remembering what your keys are for.” Comforting words when this memory lapses occur.

    Reply
  18. Ellen

    Sara-
    It was a relief getting your email and being reminded that forgetfulness isn't unique to me, but shared.
    In spite of the digital age, I need to put EVERYTHING on my wall calendar so I can look at the whole month and see a bird's-eye sweep of everything day-to-day. It's comforting and controllable to see it laid out in front of me all at once, which digital devices can't give you. It's the same for books: I look at my bookshelf and see everything I own, although I'll soon get a kindle and forget what's stored on it).

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  19. Carah

    as someone who's worked with folks who have early onset Alzheimer's I'd suggest being on the safer side and being evaluated. The earlier you catch something the more you can slow down the progression and keep quality of life.

    Reply
  20. JoAnn

    Thanks Sara….I'm about your age, you are right on as usual. Always enjoy your posts, great writing. I bought an Einstein Memory Trainer…like the old Simon game, love it. I also say names, etc 3 times out loud and mindfully try and stay focused to remember things. However, I always take jewelry and imp't stuff and put them directly away…just to be safe. And, a big thing, I notice when I stick to healthy foods (I am a veggie) and avoid preservatives and artificial ingredients and too many sweets, I am able to focus much better. Plus of course, exercise at least 3 times a week.

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  21. Kim

    Actually, there is a fourth dimension that scoops things up. While it has an affinity for those of us over fifty, it also lurks in washer-driers (where it scoops up single socks) and closets (where it poocses the socks back into our dimension as coat hangers). For those over fifty, it also scoops up men's hair from the crown of their heads and poocses it back onto women, with 4th-dimension modified DNA, on their upper lips.

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  22. Kim

    Actually, there is a fourth dimension that scoops things up. While it has an affinity for those of us over fifty, it also lurks in washer-driers (where it scoops up single socks) and closets (where it poocses the socks back into our dimension as coat hangers). For those over fifty, it also scoops up men's hair from the crown of their heads and poocses it back onto women, with 4th-dimension modified DNA, on their upper lips.

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  23. Anonymous

    Sara, I, too, have been plagued by forgetfulness. It could be my age orthat my mind is so distracted by so much stuff going on that I zone out and don't give small details their rightful attention. Being under a cloud and stressful situations can also add to this problem. Loved this article.

    By the way – what was that author's name? I meant that last line to be funny.

    Reply
  24. Gail Storey

    I'm fascinated by your post and the comments, especially those related to mindfulness. I know what you mean about being able to focus intensely on things like your writing. At other times, I actually enjoy periods of free-floating awareness, and am trying to sort out simple distraction from what's actually a change in deeper interest.

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  25. Larry

    I just wanted you to know that I sent your blog entry onto some friends and many thought it would probably be helpful.
    I know I will use your suggestion.

    Reply
  26. Steve

    I have memory lapses and adult ADD it seems. Maybe it is from too many nights at the Med, but it is alarming. I'll do things like block my front door with a stool so when I try to leave in the morning I have to think about what I am about to forget to do/bring.

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  27. Alicia Bay Laurel

    Very useful suggestions for memory loss!! I will try them. Of course I need them.

    I keep all of my various internet passwords in my addressbook, which is in the top drawer of my computer desk. That helps.

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  28. Dr. Barbra

    I think you said it all. I have been practicing all those things for many years and seldom,if ever,lose anything.

    I don't ,however,know what to do about those proper nouns.

    The good news is that we who forget are forever in the present moment. isn't tHAT WHAT WE HAVE BEN STRIVING FOR ALL ALONG?

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  29. Sharon

    Thanks for the memory tips, although I still love my paper calendar (New Yorker) where I can stick my invitations and copies of e-mails with details of events.

    Kyoto is fabulous! as is all of Japan that I have seen. Give yourself plenty of time to see Diatokaji (spelling?) the center of Zen Buddhism – it's a huge complex of temples and tea houses and wonderful landscaping. And if you have time to spend outside of Kyoto, take the train and bus ( a couple of hours) to the Miho museum designed by I.M. Pei – I've never seen anything quite like the architecture or setting.

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  30. Sheila

    Ok so you want to hear a very funny story?
    Years ago my sister called me to say she was in Saks standing in line to pay for something and she gave the salesperson her name so she could look up her credit card (remember those days?). The woman behind her said, “oh are your elated to Sheila Hirson” and my sister said yes and the woman said “I am having a luncheon for her next week when she comes to town”. My sister said I hadn't told her about a luncheon and I said that was because I didn't know about any. She told me the woman's name and I had no idea who she was. I asked my Mom and she said of course that is Aunt Rose's friends daughter. I had no idea who she was talking about. I called my friend Lynda and she said, “Oh we play bridge with merle and she heard you were coming to town so she thought it would be fun to have us all for lunch. Of course your remember merle (she gave me a last name) we went to high school together”. I had absolutely no idea who she was talking about.
    The day of the luncheon I got dressed, stopped at See's and bought a box of candy for the hostess and figured when she opened the door I would recognize her. I rang the bell, the door opened and a total stranger answered. Throughout the lunch she refereed to things from high school and clearly knew a lot about me but I swear I never, not once, got a glimmer of anything familiar about her.
    Three weeks later a woman called me and said she was a good friend of merle's and was moving to our area and would I go with her to look at a house she was thinking of buying. We became friends. years later I told her I still didn't remember who merle was!

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  31. Marcia

    Your friend's Hints are very useful. Also it's calming to know my misplacing stuff is probably not dementia; I put things down all over the place and can't find them again. Sometimes never. I do use my various Itoys (Mac/ipad/iphone) to record everything; write to do lists on the “notes” pads on them, then email them to myself. also use Stickies on the mac for recording ongoing to do lists.

    Nonetheless, I just called two Ralphs markets to see if they had the Visa card I can't find….

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  32. Judith

    Hi Sara — luckily I do know who you are and even remember that I like you. We can collect the great stores of memory loss. I knew I had turned a corner when some years back I put a cup of tea in the microwave and proceeded to use the microwave keypad to dial the phone number of the friend I had been planning to call when I sat down with my tea. There you have it! thanks for the tips! Love Judith

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  33. Mary Kate

    You hit this one right on! Thanks for the tips on keeping track of what you lose. Everyone of your examples applies to me. I'm a photographer of 71 yrs,started a virtual agency last year and applied for the Peace Corps (deferred twice for medical problems that I am overcoming- will get there yet),have a son getting married, learning new programs for digital photography,studied a language last year and worked on a course teaching ESL for the PC. Yes less stress! Stay on task. Thanks and will pass this on.
    My friends love your essays.

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  34. Maria Luise Caputo

    Thanks Sara, I know where I met you, and it is wonderful that you wrote us these
    illuminating lines. There are many of us that experience these road blocks of the
    missing check from our hands and try to retrace… Oh, what stories, we need
    only some caricatures to go with them, would you edit such a book of mishaps?

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  35. Cheri Hoffer

    Great topic. Thanks. I've been leaving sticky notes on how to operate electronics in my house for years….and I'm only 53. Hey, we have to have a sense of humor. My primary connection with the world is auditory and I am also very distractable. I find it helps a great deal to keep me on task if I say out loud what I'm doing, as opposed to looking at something I need to file or hang up. Sound trumps image for me almost every time. I speak my own name as if someone else is here keeping me on task. However silly it sounds, it creates a sense of relationship, which is a form of structure, and I love it.

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  36. Mike Doan

    Your article explains a lot. My wife can't remember words in midsentence. I can't remember where I put my keys.
    I think we're just distracted. From now on, a place for everything and everything in it's place.

    –Mike Doan

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  37. Tracy Newman

    I wanted to change the CDs held in my car CD player. Something I'd done many times. I had a Jeep Cherokee and it held 10 CDs in the back. My daughter, who was 25 at the time, was with me. I opened the hatch back, and went to open the CD holder, and couldn't remember how. We stood there for a full minute while I tried to remember how to do it, then my daughter figured it out. That was a huge lapse for me. And a bit scary.

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  38. Anonymous

    Thank you for the great information. I'M getting an IPHONE soon and I'm going to put all my information on iCal. Regards, FVP

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  39. Sharon

    Oh, Sara, Sara, Sara . . . you have hit upon a pet peeve of mine. You write, “Don't multi task.”

    I do believe the focus (or lack, thereof) on multitasking is a major cause of incompetence and a large contributor to our society’s current state of disrepair.

    I’m semi-retired. I say, “semi” because I would still like to find a job that both inspires and challenges me. Consequently, I often read job boards and help-wanted ads. A majority of employers are looking for someone who enjoys working in a fast-paced, high-stress, multitasking environment. That is so not who I am . . . hence, I may no longer be a “semi;” I may have been relegated to full-fledged retirement.

    But I question the viability of this practice. A recent case in point:

    A few days ago, I shopped at my local Trader Joe’s. I marveled at the cashier, as he helped the person ahead of me. In a cartoon, he would have been depicted with several arms . . . six, at least . . . all blurred and overlapping, as they traveled at warp(ed)-speed. He was quite pleasant and speedy when helping me, as well. After arriving home, I discovered that an item had not been charged . . . although it had made it into my bag. The item was priced at $1.99; my total charge was $12 and change.

    Not that I needed a lesson . . . not on this particular subject, at any rate . . . but it was there for me: On my transaction alone, the multitasking (albeit, quite pleasant) cashier diminished his employer’s receipt by approximately 16%. And who knows how many other uncharged items made it home with customers. Perhaps there are an equal number of overcharges to compensate. So maybe the lesson for all of us, who have discovered the bane that is multitasking, is: Pay attention to what we’re being charged.

    Then, for me, the question becomes: Do I report an undercharge (assuming I catch it quickly enough) or do I view it as a penalty against the business . . . levied by the powers that be . . . for creating conditions that yank employees away from being here and being now?

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  40. judith Ansara Gass

    Hey Sarah – I remember who you are and even remember that I like you! Some years back I had a seminal “so it begins” moment when I put my tea cup into the microwave and then proceeded to dial my friend's phone number on the micro keypad. Then I looked at my other hand where I was holding the telephone. Woops. If you cant find it, always check the freezer. Love Judith

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  41. Anonymous

    setting things in bowls for final disposition sounds like a plan – but why not just take it back? maybe you live with many flights of steps?
    I live on one level, and have trained myself to just go to the receipts folder/bookcase/medicine cabinet. it sounds like I go hither and yon all the time but I don't. once I got used to putting things back there were suddenly fewer things all around. over time, it became easy and fast to stay on top of things.

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  42. Anonymous

    I went on Adderall @ age 51. I needed it, probably could have used it before.
    It's a false syllogism to say meds can be bad because they have side effects. Untreated ADHD has side effects as well, pretty serious ones.
    No plan is perfect but the “no drugs I don't want to pollute my organic system” is baloney.
    For the record, using memory and organizational systems, scaffolding (as mentioned in your piece) are well-known tools for ADHD. As is enough sleep, exercise and less coffee. And, often, meds.
    No need to hate on any of these. A combination, often with solo or (better) group therapy, is often effective at helping (not curing) adult ADHD.
    Let's keep an open mind and not off-handedly dismiss options that are literal lifelines for some. You would never say “inhalers are terrible” or “I don;t approve of insulin” would you?

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  43. Anonymous

    My dear friend, a longtime Zennie, had a couple things he did, which I now also do, and which have served me well:

    (1) Everything has a place, and everything is put in its place; so that if it's not there, it makes you stop and think.

    (2) He never, ever left a place he was visiting without taking a good, focused look around where he'd been sitting, to make sure he was leaving nothing behind. He also patted all his pockets, because (see #1 above) he knew what was in each pocket, and he didn't want to leave without something.

    I've not only used these, I've adapted them somewhat to my needs. I may occasionally put the book I'm reading into the refrigerator, and the butter on my nightstand, but I notice it very quickly and fix it!

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  44. richardrossner

    Great article, Sara! You had me at “orgasm.” And wonderful comments from so many insightful people. And a wonderful surprise to read comments from a couple of friends! (Hi, Tracy! Hi, Richard!)

    I am great at getting directions from Mapquest, typing them out, using them to go somewhere…and then throwing the directions away. (How unmindful!)

    The next time I need the directions, I will spend time forgetting that I threw them away and waste time looking for them before I break down and go back to Mapquest.

    It only just dawned on me that I should keep all directions in the glove compartment (or trunk) of my car. Then they will always be in the only place I could possibly use them: my car!

    By the way, a great book…or series of books…on mindfulness and how important it is, is the work of Dr. Ellen J. Langer, a Harvard professor. Her book, MINDFULNESS, is wonderful. Also check out COUNTER CLOCKWISE, which discusses an experiment in which a group of elderly people – I believe some were suffering from early onset or pre-dementia – were immersed in a total environment of sensory stimuli from their “power years.” Hearing got better, eyesight got better…the body “remembered” and responded the way it used to.

    I think that is another demonstration of what happens when you remember the song that played when you were first fell in love or a song you associate with any special time. You feel all of those emotions as if it were yesterday…even though it might have happened decades earlier.

    Am I rambling…?

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  45. judith citrin

    here are some of my faves: When Fear Falls Away; Daughter of Fire; Stolen Lives; Love Again; maybe you won’t see this because it’s such an old blog entry.

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