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“Wen Yo ‘Forgetta’ Work Betta!”

October 13
13:43 2019

By: Dr. Abigail Joseph

Have you ever walked into a room and completely forgot what you went in there for? No shame in the game. It has happened to me countless times. What I normally do is – I reverse and go back to my initial point, meaning I go back to where I was and what I was doing before I got up and came to the room. Most of the time I find that I was missing something or in need of something for the action I was doing at that point in time. Going back and repeating this allowed me to recall what it was that I needed or wanted to do.

I would then proceed to doing it, and this time I would focus on that object and that alone. I once heard Rev. Louis Wade Sr. run a joke about this; he said, “yo forgetta jus di work betta!” Forgetting stuff is not the end of the world. Most people experience this and many times we joke about it because it seems to happen a bit more as we age. It is normal for a child to forget to do homework, or forget to buy something at the store. This happens because their minds are often focused on other things, like hurrying to get out to go and play at the park. Sometimes children are absent minded because they are hungry and as a result their focus is on that. In other cases there are psychological traumas that perhaps preoccupy the mind and they are unable to focus on tasks and learning. But children are not the only ones that forget.

Males forget things a lot! They forget our anniversaries. They forget to use the list you sent with them to the store. They forget where they put their keys. They forget their passwords for their emails; they just forget to remember! If you feel as though your husband or boyfriend is the only one who forgets….think again. Research has shown that between the sexes, males are the most forgetful in general, but research also showed that women forgot names and dates more. It is interesting to note that people who suffer from anxiety and depression are forgetful; persons that are highly educated forget the least and persons with the least education forget the most. Could it be a lack of exercise of the brain??

Research has also revealed that the prevalence of memory problems increases after age 60. People often laugh and joke that you are getting old when caught in a forgetful state. They automatically link forgetfulness with the aging process. It is important to know that there are episodes of forgetfulness that are considered normal age related memory loss, but there are also other factors that may be reasons for your absent mindedness – sleep deprivation or stress are among the most common. Being forgetful is a serious problem, but often times we joke about it because we associate it with “growing old.” Indeed, as we age, certain memories fade and we forget certain things, but the forgetfulness that we joke about is of something far worse than just forgetting to buy a particular product at the market, or not remembering if you placed softener in the washer.

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, and affects 7 out of 10 persons that have been diagnosed. Alzheimer’s disease is a neuro-degenerative disease that damages the brain’s intellectual functions – behavior, thinking, orientation, judgement and memory. The cause of Alzheimer’s is unknown, but there are factors that we know contribute. Factors that you cannot change are: AGE – it mostly affects persons over the age of 65 years and 1 in 6 persons over the age of 80 years old has it. GENDER – There are twice as many women than men over the age of 65 living with this disease. While the reason is not completely known, some of the explanations align with the fact that women outlive men, and Alzheimer’s is also linked to the loss of the hormone estrogen after menopause. INHERITANCE – For the most part, dementia is not inherited. However, a person with a family history of dementia after age 65 is at a greater risk for developing it. Persons who have Down Syndrome are at risk for developing the disease due to their genetic make-up. It is primarily diagnosed by having a thorough clinical neurological examination, cognitive assessment and a structural/functional brain imaging to identify atrophy and hypo-metabolism.

It is one thing to forget to take out the trash and another thing to forget faces, names and where you are. Living with Alzheimer’s is a very difficult thing for those suffering with it and for those around them. The damage to the brain makes it difficult to remember, to reason, to formulate words, to recognize people and in truth this can be a difficult reality to accept. It is important for you to recognize signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s in a loved ones because early detection can allow patients to improve symptoms. Starting medication does not prevent or cure this disease, but it slows down the progression. Living with Alzheimer’s is challenging and these persons need around the clock assistance, for they may have behavioral challenges, mood swings and difficulty performing tasks such as maintaining personal hygiene, remembering to take medications and getting dressed. They may forget their way home or leave the iron on, stove lit or other things that may endanger their lives.

Patients who live with Alzheimer’s disease need assistance. It is important that they take their medication, but more importantly that someone is there to monitor them and prevent them from being a hazard to themselves. I understand that many times these persons want to keep their pride and continue to live independent lives, but as loved ones we need to also understand that the brain is not the same and there will come a time when leading an independent life becomes more of a danger. Apart from the potential physical harm it creates by living alone, the patient may also lose weight as he or she forgets to eat. This may also exacerbate other chronic diseases if they fail to take medication or overdose because they forgot they had already taken it.

For now, forgetting is a funny joke and for most who will never experience this disease, that is all it will ever be. But who knows what the future holds? For the time being, if your ‘forgetta di work betta,’ you should start exercising, eating healthy, be sure to get enough sleep, try to learn new things, play puzzles, socialize and learn to appreciate and enjoy life.

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