A Case of the Birthdays

Everyone
experiences memory loss throughout their lives, from forgetting the name of a
new acquaintance to misplacing an item. As we age, however, forgetfulness
becomes more worrying. Our aging bodies experience changes in a number of ways,
and cognitive functioning is no exception. That being said, not all “senior
moments” necessarily indicate dementia. Sometimes the reason for forgetfulness,
aches and pains, sleepiness, or mood changes is simply “a case of the
birthdays.” *

This is my
term for natural age-related mental and physical changes. Many people caring
for their aging loved ones are hypersensitive to these changes. It is, of
course, a good idea to pay attention to such things when tracking potential
health conditions. But it is also important to remember what comes with each
candle added to the birthday cake — more acquaintances, friends, and family
members … more sights, smells, words, and feelings.

You can
think of your brain as a purse or knapsack that is continually being filled
with more “stuff” as we age, in the form of memories. As we all know, the
fuller the bag, the harder it is to find what we are looking for at a given
moment. While this does make for a sometimes worrying scenario of
forgetfulness, we should celebrate how lucky our loved one is to have a brain
and body full of so many life experiences!

So the next
time you find yourself worried about changes in your aging loved one, or they
become concerned about themselves, get together and reflect. How many tackles
did he take while high school quarterback? How many birthday parties did she
throw for all her children and grandkids over the years? How many pounds did he
carry on his back marching during military service? How many countries did she
visit throughout her adventuresome life? Being worn by life and carrying on is
an honor to celebrate and cherish. We all should be so fortunate as to have “a
case of the birthdays.”

*Consult with your healthcare team on any changes, physical or mental, observed in your aging loved one.

Kathryn Cherkas is the program manager at the Friendship Center Montecito.

The post A Case of the Birthdays appeared first on The Santa Barbara Independent.

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