Saturday, 8 March 2014

Patches of memory

Until I lived with dementia I thought that sufferers saw a wall of blankness where recent memory should be.
But 40 years ago...60 years ago....clear as clear.

Not true.
One of the strange, interesting, and sometimes disconcerting things is that the memory is in patches - at least at the stage that Okaasan is at for now.
You can never be sure what she will know, and what she won't.

Take this week:

"Did you go downtown  today, Okaasan?"
"Me? Downtown? No...I didn't..."
3 hours after returning from a subway trip, walk round the shops and a coffee downtown.
A blank.

But, next morning.

"Oh, sweet darling, kind woman-who-lives-with-my-son - yesterday I used your gloves by mistake, here they are. Thankyou so much!"

Clear as clear.

So odd. Why?
Is it because the gloves involves a feeling of obligation to another (scary) person, and a social situation that must be put right? The trip alone downtown - although a longer experience - had nothing special in it, has just as a memory faded now?
I expect there have been academic studies on this - why parts of the brain for one function break down earlier etc. 

We all remember different kinds of experience or information - some areas are stronger and weaker. I can't remember numbers at all - have to check my own post code on a piece of paper in my purse every single time I am asked for it.
But I can go back to a friend's apartment that I visited once 10 years ago - no problem.
 Numbers vs Place memory.

Dear Son knows all the  different prices of tofu in different supermarkets - Numbers and Shopping Memory.
I know random bits of information about my students and their families...years later I can meet someone and say:"and how is your brother, who has two fried eggs for breakfast on Tuesdays?". It blows them away. And covers up nicely for the fact that actually I have no idea what the old student's name IS! People Details Memory. Names? A blank.

It is interesting. And confusing for us. What will Okaasan remember? It makes us seem over-managing sometimes I guess, because we generally assume she won't remember and  are constantly helping her along in life.

Cute cat picture. Every blog needs one.

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