Re: Forgetting - Senility

Becky Lindroos

One of the reasons I retired was because I was having a harder time remembering the names of my students. These guys were 5 years old! It’s not good for your self-esteem if your teacher doesn’t even remember your name and you’re 5 years old and it’s February!

I’m losing memories of book titles and authors which I used to be quite good at. I had a good memory for dates and historical things. I had no memory for algebraic equations or geometric formulas or biology words. I was fine with remembering my scripts in plays and I occasionally had nice roles. (I used to do quite well with Bible verses and poetry and the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution and Lincoln’s Gettysburg address. Oh what else did we have to memorize in school?).

(A teacher friend told me about someone who came in bragging about having memorized the names of the Popes. Ya. My friend asked her “For what reason?” The friend didn’t know. - lol! - Me: Because they were there?)

The last couple weeks my mom was losing all of it and had every sign of aging that Herbert wrote about. I guess she died of natural causes including bones breaking, head and body bleeds, loss of memory (all kinds), loss of senses. She stuck it out and hung in there just as long as she possibly could. She got to 97 years 9 months and that’s the longest lived in my family as far back as we have records on. So I guess she died right on time and I was somewhat glad because she was soooo ready - her bags were packed (so to speak).


On Oct 26, 2021, at 12:49 PM, Merilee Olson <> wrote:

I’ve gotten terrible with names. I used to be really good at them.

On Tue, Oct 26, 2021 at 10:22 AM johannakurz <> wrote:
For me it is more difficult to memorize poetry now...or learning new vocabularies in foreign was easy when I was young.
I always had bad memory with names...but througout my had my father...believe that it is genetic.


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Von: Herbert Lewis <>
Datum: 26.10.21 18:44 (GMT+01:00)
Betreff: [AllNonfiction] Forgetting - Senility

Small writes "'senility' being a medical term meaning 'later life,' somewhat arbitrarily defined as beginning in our mid-sixties." (p. 188). As Dave posted there are a wide range of diseases which correlate with old age and memory loss. Particularly noteworthy is Alzheimer's disease which is a pathological condition that destroys hippocampus neurons which impacts the abilities first to form new memories, second to eventually access all memories, and finally to destroy enough brain cells to kill the afflicted. I have often read and/or heard that Alzheimer's disease is likely universal, so prevalent that should people not die of something else first eventually everyone would die of this disease. Small claims this is not true.

There are a number of physical attributes which deteriorate with age. Bones become less dense. Muscle mass diminishes. Vertebrae changes cause the head to tip forward which constricts the throat more easily resulting in choking while eating. Joint cartridge thins promoting injuries. Ligaments become less elastic causing loss of flexibility. Deterioration of eye lenses impact vision. Ear presbycusis causes hearing loss. The abilities to taste and smell diminishes. Skin becomes thinner, less elastic, drier, and finely wrinkled. Nerves conduct signals more slowly and repair themselves incompletely causing decreased sensation and strength.

Brains are not immune to these non-pathological deteriorations. Neuron loss decreases sensitivity to chemical substances transmitting messages. Blood flow to the brain decreases partially contributing to loss of mental functions such as vocabulary, the ability to learn new material, ability to recall words and names, etc. This non-pathological condition, typically known as "senile dementia," is, like Alzheimer's disease, a progressive cognitive demise afflicting older people.

Small describes the use of Functional MRI to scan the hippocampus of many patients to ascertain whether Alzheimer's disease and normal aging have the same impact on hippocampus health. Interestingly they do not. The area of the hippocampus affected by Alzheimer's disease is the Entorhinal Cortex, that affected by normal aging is the Dentate Gyrus. These are two distinct areas located at opposite ends of the hippocampus. What I found absolutely amazing is that being afflicted with one of these maladies apparently protects against experiencing the other. That is, the fMRI scans indicated that hippocampi with Alzheimer's disease show no sign of deterioration from cognitive aging and vice versa. IMO that's astounding!

As an aside, if Carol C. reads this I'd be interested in her opinion. She posted that she set a challenge for herself to memorize poetry. My question is: Is it more difficult now to memorize than it used to be?

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