A Trickster Called Memory

By Donna RandallUncategorizedWith 0 comments

The more time I spend with elderly folk, the more puzzled I am about what appear to be tricks of the mind. From what I’ve read and experienced, I think it safe to assume that the long-term memory is much more dependable than is the short term memory, but then again unless we were part of the long-term memory recollections, do we really know whether or not these recollections are accurate, or even truly occurred? To date, the most entertaining instance of revisionist history I’ve experienced occurred just recently, and I can speak to the revision involved as I was party to the “truth”.

In this true version of the story, a care recipient experienced two weeks in respite care, followed by one week that saw her back at home and then away at a “camp”, followed by another week in respite care. Now, as I type, I realize that even for a younger person this combination of locations could be confusing; however, since that time this care recipient had explained the entire situation quite clearly to several people, so it seems she had it straight in her mind.

And now we get to the intriguing and perhaps entertaining part of the story, which saw the care recipient visited by a young family in the neighbourhood, as the family members took an evening walk past her dwelling. When they paid her a visit and commented that they hadn’t seen her around for a while, she explained (and I quote), “Oh yes, I decided to take a vacation so I was away for a while.” Well, given that I was in earshot, I had to stifle my laughter, which erupted before I got to thinking about the situation. Had the care recipient revised this piece of history within her brain to “save face” with the neighbours, or had she convinced herself that this was the situation, given her claim to fame being that she has no ailment, and experiences absolutely no signs of aging? My guess is that we will never know the answer to that question.

Yours in caregiving,

dfr