The Absent-Minded Mom

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You know how it is at the start of the New Year. If one is in business, you have to get permits and other papers from the City Hall. One of these paper requirements is the NBI clearance. I cannot forget the incredulous look of the NBI data personnel when he asked me “What’s your address?” I stated my address but he pointed to what I wrote down on the data sheet.

“Let me take a look” as I turned the paper around. What was I thinking?

greenthumb.gif(For privacy reasons, I am modifying parts of my complete home address). Horrified, I saw the words Green Thumb instead of Green Village.

I laughed out loud, “No, no, it’s not Green Thumb” but the NBI dude didn’t laugh along with me. He must have seen it happen all the time. Perhaps, he thought I am just bonkers or better yet, respects an older woman’s fragile memory.

So I thought that was it. After I went through the finger printing and photo shoot, I drove to my other appointment. I must have been so engrossed in my plans to buy this particular furniture that I ended in front of the City Hall, back to where I started. Ugh, what a waste of gasoline.

The rest of the day went smoothly as I happily worked on my latest projects until it was time for my workout mid-afternoon. Feeling great, I imagined myself with my macbook sprawled blissfully at the couch and watching mundane TV shows. But wait, the mom instinct in me kicked in.

Wasn’t I supposed to fetch M after the gym? What am I doing in front of my house?

I finally got to relax on the lounging chair, basking the showbiz gossip news when I received an instant message from a bereaved mom based in Singapore. I asked “how is your grandson?” I must have confused her with another Singapore-based mom when she ignored my question and just said “my 12 year old son died of leukemia”.

Another whammy. Four annoying absent-minded experience is a lot for one day. Its not funny anymore (but hubby guffawed at the Green Thumb address so you can laugh too. )

Am I senile, tired or just having a sensory overload?

Is this menopause? I don’t think so. Not yet anyway.

I have always taken pride in my ability to focus and multi-task. Sometimes people become forgetful because they’re on sensory overload. I need to slow down.

In our fast-paced society, we’re all on chronic systems overload. We’re multi-tasking — talking on our cell phones, checking text messages, reviewing plans for the day, walking into a store to shop. It’s very easy for certain things to get lost in the shuffle. I am not suffering from Alzheimer’s disease but I don’t have to be absent-minded.

So how do you know if you have a serious problem, and is there anything your can do to bolster your memory?

George Grossberg, M.D., an internationally recognized Alzheimer’s disease researcher and director of geriatric psychiatry at Saint Louis University School of Medicine offers this recipe for brain health:

  • Try to figure out what is causing your forgetfulness. Did you make a wrong turn while driving while you were talking on a cell phone and listening to the radio? Maybe you’re trying to do too many things at once and need to put down the phone or turn off the tunes.
  • Exercise your body. Along with improving your cardio-vascular health, exercise increases your “feel-good” endorphins, which improves your mood and prevents depression. Depression causes cognitive impairment and is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Exercise your mind. Research shows mental challenge can help rewire connections in the brain, which enhance its activity and make it more resistant to diseases. So find a new hobby, learn to play chess, use your left hand if you’re right-handed, study a foreign language or Calculus.
  • Take care of yourself. Controlling risk factors for cardio-vascular disease such as high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol and obesity may help decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Not getting enough deep, restful sleep causes cognitive impairment later in life. Besides, if you’re sleep deprived, you won’t think clearly and are more likely to forget now. Find out why you’re not sleeping if that’s a problem.
  • Feed your brain. Some research shows antioxidant vitamins have protective powers against Alzheimer’s disease. The B vitamins, particularly B12, and folate are very important in how brain cells function. Take a supplement if necessary.
  • Check your meds. Sometimes medications — prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs — can cause memory or concentration problems, which you should discuss with your doctor.

Dr. Grossberg says the key to whether you should be concerned about your forgetfulness is how it affects your ability to function. “The time to worry is when the changes you experience affect your ability to function on a day-to-day basis. If forgetfulness is of such a frequency and magnitude that it is interferes with your ability to do your job, for example, you should see a doctor.”

Looking through Dr Grossbery’s suggestions, I plan to do the following initiatives to feed my brain.

  • Learn to cultivate herbs for the kitchen. Maybe the Green Thumb fiasco is a sign to learn something new.
  • Learn Japanese along with M who plans to visit Japan. Since I will be driving her, I might as well make use of my time.
  • Take Vitamin B supplements.
  • Sleep at 10:00 PM or take afternoon naps.

How about you? Have you had bouts of absent-mindedness? Did you find ways to combat it?