It may be an illusion, but I tell myself that when I was younger, TIME was a pretty straight forward concept. Things happened in sequence. The past was safely located in memory, the future was a prospect dictated partly by the dates in my diary, and the present was clearly enough now. Never blessed with a good memory, I could forget things, could be anxious about the commitments of tomorrow and could be a bit dreamy about today’s agenda, but in the main I knew where I had been, would be next, and what was happening now. It’s no longer so simple.
As you get older your responsibilities get less and your life is monitored not so much by events but more by your random thoughts. My thoughts get more random by the day! I can start off thinking about one thing, get sidetracked by another, dive into a third and end up wondering what the original one was. Mostly I get back to where I want to be, which can be a relief. Similarly moving from being wakeful and settling down for a siesta or for a night’s rest, I can enter into a sort-of-sleep where I am still partly awake but am entertaining thoughts or being entertained by them without any control of my own until I am properly asleep and can safely leave it to the fantasy world of dreams.
Then there is this problem of finding the right words, so difficult sometimes that it’s hard to enter fully into a conversation. I know what the thought is, can see the face of a person I want to mention, it’s the word that escapes me!! People when they see me struggling for the word -my wife especially because in her company is where it generally happens – hesitate to help for a moment. I see them thinking, ‘shall I suggest what he wants to say or shall I wait until he finds it? Is it kind to see him on his way or would it be kinder to wait, but then to wait without certainty that he will get there’.
So, the big question – are these the early signs of dementia or just the consequence of age? I’ve been looking up various websites on the subject which are doubtless designed to be helpful but are not a good way to cheer up an eighty two year old like me on a cold spring day. I qualify for some of the signs, but cling to those which I don’t think apply. For example, I think I can still trust my judgement where I continue to be motivated by the same set of values – and prejudices – that I have always had. And manually I’m still O.K. I think, though it takes longer to do things. And my family and the people I admire and love are still a central part of my consciousness. Perhaps it’s all just a new way of living. One website says, if ‘it’ gets worse in six months, go and see the doctor. I’ll promise myself that.
……meanwhile, I wish the weather would change.