Nov 8, 2019
The Atlantic – I’ve been keeping a Google Doc of all the words my 53-year-old brain hasn’t been able to remember. The list has grown long.
It might have grown twice as long, but often I forget the word I’ve forgotten between forgetting it and rushing to the computer to write it down.
Next to the missing word in question, I note the description I used instead, such as “the thing that blows” (wind) and “the kind of shirt that’s soft and plaid” (flannel).
Some of these Jeopardy-ready descriptions are surprisingly––if accidentally––poetic, such as the time bugs kept smashing against my car’s windshield and I called my partner on the phone to say, “There are so many dead bugs on the … on the … on the piece of glass between me and the world.”
When I couldn’t remember grill, I called it a “cooker thing.” Reincarnation became “that word Buddhists use for the next life.”
More recently, my daughter and some of her college friends saw me gussied up for a party and asked where I was going. “It’s uh, you know, a party for …” I stammered. “What is the thing when you’re trying to raise funds?”
“A fundraiser?” her friend said, laughing.
I laughed too, embarrassed by yet another brain fart. But I also worried. Are these the normal perils of a woman’s brain at the beginning of its sixth decade, or am I in full-blown cognitive decline?
It’s not like I’m that old. Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, predominantly affects people 65 and older.
And while 200,000 Americans under the age of 60 live with early-onset Alzheimer’s, so far I’m not one of them.
I have no family history of the disease. Aside from word recall, finding my keys, and remembering a person’s name after we’ve been introduced, my brain functions relatively well.
Plus, I currently hold down four writing jobs, which might be the simplest explanation for my frequently scrambled cognitive state … Read more.
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