Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Fear of Forgetting

"Our Irrational Fear of Forgetting" minimizes the devastating impact of memory loss. My mother is 93 and I have watched her disappear, step by agonizing step, over the past years. I look each day for the light that still shines within her, but it is often hard to find. She has lost time and place, and the world has become an unrecognizable blur to her.

Advances in modern medicine now allow our old to become ever older. The problem is that we are outliving our bodies and our minds. It is not anything that an attitude adjustment can fix. As my family copes daily with the hardships that have become a given in my mom's existence, it does make those of us who watch and suffer with her and for her, fearful. Burden is a harsh word, but it is something that my mother desperately wants not to be, and it is something that we hope never to be to our children.

Losing much of one's identity to a disease for which there are no answers does generate very rational concerns. I remember my mom, many years ago, before she exhibited any signs of noticeable deterioration, complaining about her inability to recall and retrieve. I always assured her it was nothing. But now, when I am unable to remember information, or my wife is unable to complete a thought, it raises the spectre of something much larger. Our children already have had discussions with us as to the scope of their role when we are in decline.

So, while "Forget Memory, Try Imagination" is a catchy slogan, it does not allay my trepidation. For those who have been touched by the tragedy of Alzheimer's or dementia, who watch mothers and fathers or grandparents diminish and fade away, fear is a natural, and very rational, response.

No comments: