If you’ve made it to a certain age there’s a very good chance that you or your partner have acquired a bit of normal cognitive impairment that often manifests itself in forgetfulness, misplacing items, forgetting appointments, or trouble remembering what you partner has just told you to bring back from the other room. Sound familiar? I am certainly suffering from it. My partner and I laughingly refer to this mild memory impairment as CRS (Can’t Remember Shit). CRS is bound to strike sooner or later, and it’s best to be prepared in advance.
There are ways you and your partner can help and support each other through CRS. The first step of course is to admit you’re having struggles and to talk about it with your mate. The two of you know each other better than anyone else does, and if one of you recognizes that this is becoming an issue it’s best not to ignore it; and better still to strategize about how you can help and support each other when it comes to remembering important dates, appointments and such.
Lists – List making is a great skill to develop to help keep your mind organized and your appointments straight. Remember, you must actually bring the list with you in order for it to be an effective tool. Leaving it on a desk or countertop will not do a darn bit of good. Start by tacking your grocery list on the fridge with a magnet, or by keeping it at hand in your home office. Make that the last thing that you grab as you head out the door to the market. Same with your day plans. If you have several appointments and errands to do on the same day, it’s a great idea to put all of your stops in consecutive order and carry that list with you on your way. I use my smart phone; we all have those with us, and we don’t forget them when we go anywhere.
Calendars and Schedulers -Some of us are old school types that prefer pen and paper, and others are more tech savvy and can manage calendars on our phones. Sit with your partner and go through the days ahead and coordinate your calendars, scheduling everything of import including appointments, shopping trips, picking up dry cleaning, gym time, coffee dates. No matter what it is, if it’s worth remembering, it’s worth writing down. Online schedulers can be shared between your two phones and also can have reminders set for you to prompt you that you have something coming up within the hour. This is incredibly helpful.
Physical and mental fitness – Other ways you can help to cope with CRS include staying physically active and working on your mental acuity. Play word games, do puzzles, read, walk, and work out if you can. Challenge each other to improve your physical and mental status constantly and don’t be content to decline. There are plenty of people who will live to a ripe old age with all their marbles intact and the rest of us don’t need to lose all of ours, if we work to safeguard what remains.
There are supplements available over the counter with names like Focus Factor, Procera, Brain Boost and more (containing nootropics) that help safeguard brain function and fight memory loss. Other additives such as caffeine, ginkgo biloba, fish oil, and resveratrol (found in berries, red wine, chocolate and peanuts) give us naturally occurring chemicals that help our memory and brain function. While I can’t recommend one over the other, I feel like those of us who enjoy wine, coffee and chocolate are on the right track. Talk to your medical professional before taking any medications or supplements that might interact with other medications you may be taking.
Talk about the past – You and your partner have made many memories together over the years you’ve been together. Spend time looking at photos, souvenirs of trips, talk about these times and prompt each other to remember where you went, the restaurants, hotels you stayed in and the people you met. This is a great exercise for stimulating the memory centers of the brain.
Last but NOT LEAST:
Be patient and loving to one another. Realize that it can be scary to be losing some of your cognitive ability. Do your best to remain calm and caring towards one another even when your partner forgets something important. CRS isn’t a death sentence. It’s really just an inconvenience for the moment. However, if you notice a marked or rapid decline is happening, make sure you get your partner to the doctor and have their health evaluated as it may be something far more serious such as Dementia or Alzheimer’s.