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Why am I forgetting so much?
July 10, 2012 2:33 PM   Subscribe

How good is a good memory, really? And when should memory loss be a concern?

I've never been good at (or cared to be good at) retaining book/movie plots, directions, people's names or important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, etc), but lately I'm beginning to wonder about myself.

I went to get glasses last month and the eye doctor convinced me to try contacts. I was certain I'd never worn them before, until they were showing me how to put them in and, upon doing it, I realized it felt vaguely familiar. I had to ask my ex-husband, who reminded me that yes indeed, I did wear a contact lens in one eye for several months in about 2003-4 and eventually abandoned it for being too much of a hassle. It alarms me that I managed to completely jettison such basic knowledge about myself and my own experiences.

There are other things that people will refer to or ask me about that I have no recognition of having happened, even if they're evens in the not-too-distant past (sometimes reading my journal of the past year is surprising).

Is this unusual? Is there a way to improve it?
posted by thrasher to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Here's a question from last month discussing what a "normal" memory is - it seems to vary a lot from person to person. My fiancee often has trouble remembering events she attended a while ago, but has excellent recall of movies she watched and books she read - I'm the opposite.
posted by insectosaurus at 2:38 PM on July 10, 2012


I've never been good at (or cared to be good at) retaining book/movie plots, directions, people's names or important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, etc)

I have what's generally considered to be a good memory (I'm good at trivia games and remember details of shared events better than most people) and for me at least, how much I care about remembering something seems to be directly related to how good I am at remembering it. So, for example, I can be introduced to a dozen people at some event where I don't actually care about remembering who they are, and I'll forget details like their names almost instantly. Whereas if I make a point to make a "mental note" of a group of people's names, I can remember them indefinitely. From my experience if you start being more focused on treating these kinds of details important and actively remembering those sorts of things you may see some general improvements in your memory.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:49 PM on July 10, 2012


I've never been good at (or cared to be good at) retaining book/movie plots, directions, people's names or important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, etc)

Totally normal.

I had to ask my ex-husband, who reminded me that yes indeed, I did wear a contact lens in one eye for several months in about 2003-4 and eventually abandoned it for being too much of a hassle.

Somewhat alarming.

(sometimes reading my journal of the past year is surprising)

Very alarming. I would talk to a doctor soon.
posted by The World Famous at 2:57 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


A nurse I knew who worked with elderly people said to worry about memory problems when you or a loved one does not realize there is a problem. That is, if you remember that you forgot, it is probably OK. But is you donʻt remember, then it is not. So if you go in the kitchen and forget why you went in, it is OK, but if you forget what a kitchen is for, well.... Anyway, you might see a doctor about this, since it alarms you
posted by fifilaru at 3:32 PM on July 10, 2012


I do not think any of these things are particularly alarming--The first question I would ask myself is if my 'impaired" memory caused and real or significant problems in my daily activities/functions or if it places you or others in danger. If the answer to this (honest appraisal and feed back from family/close friends) is yes I would see a professional for assessment. If the answer is no--well, your choice. I have no ideas/leads on memory enhancement. As stated--forgetting why you went to the kitchen is a nuisance--not knowing what the kitchen is for is a problem--forgetting a name/no, forgetting the person is a nephew/yes, lost the keys/OK, losing keys everyday/concern, what are the keys for/problem. Getting lost/probably not, not knowing where you are going/yes, forgetting spouses birthday/OK, forgetting who your spouse is/problem. Forgot where you put your change OK/forgetting how to count change/problem. Good Luck
posted by rmhsinc at 4:21 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sa. Quijano remembers the social things, I remember the personal details, it works out fairly well. As you get older, it seems that your memory becomes more focused on the things which are now important, not what happened ten-twenty years ago. You would be right to be concerned about forgetting something as personal as wearing contacts, but is it possible that your forgetfulness is because (for whatever reason) it was a very unpleasant experience? Perhaps it's a repression?
posted by alonsoquijano at 9:45 PM on July 10, 2012


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