, Newburyport, MA


June 7, 2013

Boomer Talk: Are you paying attention?

“What was the name of that movie, you know, the one that I liked with that older guy? What’s his name?”

The names you seek are right on the tip of your tongue, but you simply cannot remember, and when you go to copy a phone number down, you transpose one or more numbers. You now cannot ignore that you have had some short-term memory loss. This recognition can be really upsetting at first, but then you may decide to just let it go, stop beating yourself up and sweating the small stuff. No big deal, and anyway, your friends are just like you; they can’t remember things either.

But eventually the loss of recall becomes more problematic when you can’t remember where you put the cellphone, or the credit card or the keys, with so much time and effort wasted trying to find lost possessions. This problem is really obvious when you cannot find your car in a large parking lot. You wander around the aisles while pushing your cart and pressing the beeper over and over, hoping no one notices you and your car are lost.

With each passing year, the clarity of our thinking may have diminished, but still it is important to maintain some control over careless behaviors that create frustration and stress. Staying aware (mindful) is called for, so as to better avoid losing things. Paying attention is the first step, and then speaking out loud to yourself is one helpful way to remember. “I am putting my cellphone on the night table.” “I am parking the car four rows to the left of the front door.”

In these boomer years, and beyond, it is equally crucial to be more aware of the body and how it feels. You can’t heal what you can’t feel, and you can’t feel unless you are in your body. We all know people who mostly “live in their heads” while ignoring their body. Perhaps they sit slouched over a desk all day and then ... no surprise ... develop ongoing pain in their back or shoulders or neck or legs. They may resign themselves to these aches and pains by saying, “Oh well, I must be getting older.” However, when their body is feeling so unhappy, if caught in time, there could be some simple remedies, beginning with improving their posture every time they sit in the chair. They could also commit to getting out of the chair and moving away from the desk each hour or two, walking around a bit, doing some stretching. These simple changes could improve their life and prevent further deterioration in their joints.

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