SIGNS OF SENILITY
The signs of senility are plentiful and sometimes subtle.
SIGN 1. FORGETTING WHAT WE ARE DOING.
Margaret was in our TV room. Her mind left the show, maybe during commercials, and began to think on the furnace disaster we were enduring. We had a furnace puff back and the house had been filled with smoke, and everything in it covered with dust and ash. She began to think on all the things that had been taken by the dry cleaners.
The dry cleaners inventoried all our clothing, covers, and drapes; and took them away to be cleaned; and left a list with us. Margaret began to wonder how many items were taken. So she decided to go upstairs to the office and look at the list. She left the TV room, still thinking of the show and the dry cleaning, and then her body went on auto pilot to get her to the office while her mind wandered where it would. She made it to the office OK and stood in front of her desk not knowing why she was there.
Now that same thing has happened to me; and it introduces a little bit of adventure, mystery or disgust into my life. I will find myself standing somewhere, obviously for some purpose, but not remembering what. My body had been shifted into auto pilot and guided to the spot, and my mind had wandered elsewhere so that I did not remember why I was there.
SIGN 2. LOSS OF SHORT TERM MEMORY.
Wednesday, April 20, most of our dry cleaning was returned. The cleaners had taken almost all of our clothes, chair pillows, and drapes which were soiled by the furnace puff back. Margaret spent Thursday taking it out of the plastic bags and arranging it in the closets. She found her black ski jacket. She had been with no jacket for three weeks, but it had been fairly warm weather.
She looked closely at the jacket and noticed a zippered pocket on the left sleeve close to the wrist. Then looking at the other wrist she saw that there was no pocket there and commented that it was odd. I remarked that only one pocket was needed for a cigarette lighter.
Today, Friday, we were sitting in the doctor's office and she noticed the odd pocket again and made the same comment about how odd it was to have the zippered pocket on only one sleeve. It was clear that she did not remember making the same discovery yesterday. So I reminded her of my comment and she remembered the comment, but not the odd pocket.
I do not doubt that I have done the same thing. Short term memory fails as we grow older, but long term memory stays and allows us to remember details from 60 or more years ago, even if we don't want to remember.
Today, March 5, almost a year after the first event, Margaret noticed the zippered pocket on only one jacket sleeve, and made the same comment about it. I reminded that she had noticed that before, but she didn't remember. So I showed her where I had it on this page.
Today, Jan 24, 2008, Margaret again noticed that her left sleeve had a zippered pocket, but not her right sleeve. We were in the Koffee Kup eating lunch. She did not remember anything about the previous discussions of the anamoly.
SIGN 3. FORGETTING WHAT WE ARE SAYING.
Conversations, especially telephonic ones, will tend to digress, in the middle of something meaningful we want to say. When we reach the end of the digression we will have forgotten what we were originally in the middle of saying.
I hear Margaret forget what she is saying a few times each week, but because my short term memory is failing I can't remember the details of a single instance. So the next time it happens I will post it here at once.
SIGN 4. WE PUT IT SOMEWHERE SO WE WOULDN'T LOSE IT?
We had a furnace puff back and everything in the house was covered with a thin layer of black soot. The house cleaners were there for three weeks and Margaret thought they were sure to move things as they cleaned and we would not be able to find the moved items. So Margaret took some things and put them away in a safe place and requested that the cleaners not clean those places. But weeks after the cleaners left Margaret noticed that several pictures which had sat on top of her file cabinet were not there. So she started a search for these items which lasted almost a month and extended repeatedly over several rooms. She could not remember where she had 'safely' stored the pictures. Finally, I found the pictures in the most logical place that she would have put them, in her lower right desk drawer. She had looked in her lower right desk drawer many times, but since the pictures were small and stored on end she had not noticed them.
After I found the pictures we were at a restaurant with Margaret's daughter and son-in-law. I told the story of the lost items and said I would put it on my web site. But I forgot what the story was, only remembering that there was some funny story. It took two weeks and browsing on my web site before I saw something that recalled what I wanted to show in my web site.
SIGN 5. DISCUSSING WHO WILL PAY FOR IT.
We both have a retirement income greater than either one of us normally needs to spend. So why would we need to discuss who will pay for a pizza delivery? It is my fault, I just can't pass up an opportunity to tease Margaret.
Wednesday, we discuss what we will eat for dinner. Margaret suggests that we order pizza delivery from a new place close by. They only deliver after 5 PM. Margaret calls and finds that she can get pineapple on her half of a pizza, that delivery will require at least a $12 order, and that the delivery person should get a $2 tip.
So the order is $12.48, which includes the bread sticks and sauce to meet the $12 minimum for delivery. The expected delivery tip is $2. Who will pay what?
So I begin to negotiate (fret) with Margaret. She wants me to pay $12. I offer to pay the 48 cents. She wants me to pay the $2 tip in addition to the 48 cents. And so it goes.
I will let you know how it turned out.
Today is Sunday; the pizza lasted till Saturday eating one piece a day. I forget who paid what, sorry.
SIGN 6. UNEXPECTED INJURIES.
Today, Jan 3, 2006 I am sitting here with a sore bottom. A couple of days ago I squatted down to accomplish some task and got off balance. I teetered back and finally fell softly onto the floor. The impact was not great and I did not notice any pain. But the next morning I noticed a slight pain and this morning the pain was greater.
The fall was not much and would not have caused any subsequent pain when I was younger. But now the slightest injury can become painful and bruised after a day or two. I can see what looks like several cuts on my fingers. I can't remember anything that caused the injuries, but they have developed into sores that will take several days to heal.
SIGN 7. TRASH CAN HIATUS.
Each Monday morning we prepare the garbage and trash for pickup on Tuesday morning. I put the week's newspapers and pop cans in one bag. And the daily kitchen garbage and refrigerator leftovers in another. Margaret will go from room to room and collect all of the trash from the trash cans in each of our rooms.
Then a special rule goes into effect. I am not allowed to put trash into any of the room trash cans until Tuesday. Margaret believes that, since she has just emptied all of the trash on Monday, no one should put trash into the cans until Tuesday. The niceness of the newly empty cans should not be spoiled the same day. So any trash must be turned over to Margaret so she can put it with the rest of the trash in the garbage bags, which I take out early on Tuesday morn for the collectors.
Sign 8. USELESS DISCUSSIONS
Today, Jan 29, Margaret asked me to use my scanner to make a copy of a form she was filling out for sales taxes for her antique shop. I noticed that her signature was dated Jan 30. So I started a useless discussion about my making a copy of a document that contained a falsehood.
Apparently Margaret believes that a Sunday, which happens to be today, is not a legal or Christian day to make a binding signature. She will not date a check, signature, or other instrument on a Sunday.
Margaret is a "Notary Public" but I dare not ask her about what she does if a customer comes to her on a Sunday; not after the way she chastised me for asking about the legality of a copy. Anyway, as I get older I am more inclined to start foolish discussions.
Sign 9. SPOILING EACH OTHER'S FUN
One of our telephones gave out last month. I planned to go shopping for a telephone today, March 31, the first time since Christmas that I had been shopping. I planned to go to CVS and Lowe's and look for telephones and view the selection. All the usual things that shoppers look forward to and enjoy the excitement of; the ladies and some men will know what I mean.
But Margaret took things into hand. She called CVS and found that they had some, she asked where they were in the store so that she could go directly to them, and asked about the selection and found that there were a few white ones and maybe a silver one. When she told me about it I thought that all the fun was spoiled, but that maybe I would get a chance to look for the telephones. No! on the way to the store she told me that I should follow her when we got in the store since she knew exactly where to walk to find the telephones.
Sign 10. PLAYING POOL AND RECKLESS SPENDING, ANOTHER USELESS DISCUSSION
We usually play a game or two of pool each evening, about 6 PM. We play for $1 a game. This evening I got involved with computer music and did not come down to the pool room until a little after 7 PM.
Margaret said: “You are too late,” meaning that she was already watching her evening TV programs.
I said “You are already watching your TV programs?”
She said, “Yes, but at least you didn’t lose any money.”
I replied “Good, you would only have spunt it recklessly!”
“Yes” she agreed, “but don’t bother me now.”
SIGN 11. A MISSIONARY POSITION, ANOTHER USELESS DISCUSSION
We were watching a movie this afternoon, Sunday June 25. It was a Richard Pryor movie, and he was talking to an older woman. "How long have you been in your present position?" he asked. "I have held a Nun's position for about thirty years." she replied. "And what will you do now?" he asked. "I plan to assume a missionary position and hold it for a very long time." she replied.
The humor was lost on Margaret, so I started to explain what was meant by a 'missionary position,' as taught by the Christian missionaries to the heathen peoples of the world during the 18th and 19th centuries. This was too much for Margaret, she did not believe it, and I had to abandon the TV room and leave Margaret alone with the movie. She is enjoying it still.
SIGN 12. USELESS DISCUSSIONS
Today Margaret got a bill from Centra Health for $100. The statement showed that over $15,000 had been charged, but that the insurance had paid all but the $100. Of course Margaret wanted to know what the $100 was for, so she called the hospital and asked for a statement. She will get an itemized statement containing hundreds of charges, but nowhere will it show what the insurance refused to pay. I tried to tell Margaret this but she grew aggressive and petulant.
I will suggest later, when she calms down, that she need to contact the insurance company if she wants to know what they refused to pay.