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Is My Memory Fading?

Esther Rabi

Before middle age, we remembered what our guests’ allergies are, Ma’s birthday, and which skirt had to go to the dry cleaners — now we can’t even remember what we’re looking for in the fridge. What happens to our memories as our brains age, and what can we do to stay sharp?

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Ita was sure her face would burst if her smile got any wider. The kids had gone all out to make their youngest sister’s sheva brachos special. As she stood to thank them, she thought I’m so happy I might cry! Then she forgot her son-in-law’s name, and the nagging worries she’d been repressing about her mind and memory flooded back. “I used to think of myself as Super Mom,” she confided to her husband on the way home. “Now I’ve become Wonder Woman — I wonder where I left my keys, I wonder how I put on all this weight, and I wonder where my money went. What’s happening to me? And what am I going to do about it?” 

What’s Normal? 
The next Monday, Ita headed to Chana Book’s Memory Improvement Workshop. Noticing Ita’s hesitation, Chana said, “When a 30-year-old forgets, nobody thinks about it twice. But when she’s older, people think, ‘Oh, she’s starting. Old age is setting in.’ ”“My memory is definitely getting bad,” Ita says.“Never say that,” says Chana, who teaches classes on “neurobics” or brain exercises in and around Jerusalem andTelAviv. “It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. There are all sorts of memory. Some people remember faces but not names; some remember names but not faces. There are people who never forget a smell, or a number, but can’t remember other things.”“But I’m starting to forget really important things!” Ita said.“You don’t have to worry about not being able to find your car keys. That’s normal. What’s serious is when you can find your car keys but can’t remember what they’re for.” 

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