The challenge of procrastination for Baby Boomers
By Wayne Clark and Woodrow Clark
For those of us in our senior years that have all the vim and vigor of our youth. We still must do physical and mental activities a little different. At times we might be a little slower in our gate, a little harder to get up, and even a bit forgetful about a whole variety of things. When our body acts up, we can exercise, when we have aches and pains we can stretch, or we can even change our gate to prevent trips and falls. But what do we do about our forgetfulness? Over a decade ago a colleague mentioned a book The Seven Sins of Memory: How the Mind forgets and remembers, 2001.by Daniel Schacter a Harvard University Professor of Psychology. This very insightful book taught us ways to remember persons names that we did not immediately recall, encouraging us to avoid trying to guess things based on faulty recollection. Although the book was more about memory than just the characteristics of forgetfulness there are kernels of advice as well as assistance in ways to remember the various experiences aspects of our experiences daily.
More recently a close relative was diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia (PPA), one of the many forms of frontal temporal degeneration (FTD) of the brain. We wanted to know more about the range of brain disorders associated with dementia. Fortunately, the National Institute of Health, National Institute on Aging website (www.NIA.NIH.gov), posts extensive research on aging and brain disorders like dementia. On the NIA website is a comprehensive paper (What are the Different Types of Dementia) that is both reassuring and up to date about the current understanding of brain disorders as we age. Forgetting where you left your keys is quite normal. Not knowing where you parked your cars is also common. However, not knowing where you are or having difficulty in identifying common objects or recognizing family members by name are just three examples of the more troublesome signs of the spectrum of memory challenges.
During this recent period of heightened awareness to brain and memory problems. We decided to do something about our own tendency to forget things and circled back to the old saying “don’t put off till tomorrow….” We tried something different instead of saying we will get to that later. We started to act on what was on our mind now. Not just seniors but all of us need to better manage this new world of multi-tasking, information overload, and constant barrages of technological contact. Step one is to not just go to the next thing and hope we will get to it later. We now choose to pick up things that we just put down, call, or contact now with the person we just thought about. We send the payments due now that we just received. We read and finish the article that caught our eye. We put in place practices that improve our memory and ability to remember. We do what we are in the moment dealing with and take care of it, now. So, we do not just leave my keys anywhere, we keep them on us, or I leave my keys in specific places. If we want to do something, pick up something we drop, or answer a text or email or pay a bill, we do it right away. We do not challenge my brain so that we have try and remember it later. We prevent forgetting because we just do it before we leave it to start the next thing.
Does it work all the time? Are we now so on top of things that we do not need to trick ourselves from forgetting? Not exactly, is it better than before? Yes, it has sharpened our memory. It has helped us become more efficient by completing one thing before starting something new. It has created a preventive defense to the barrage of stimuli the modern world puts in front of us. We exercise our memory by acting at once. It is a method for having our once younger more agile brain function just as efficiently as we did in the good old days. Will people notice, yes? However, that is not the point, since we will notice a return in our confidence and our ability to recall.
As baby boomers, the vibrancy of our bodies and minds needs a little exercise and structure. The brain remains the unknown frontier and helping it function better only helps us thrive and remain resilient in a complex modern society. So again, we pick up sayings from our parents as they admonished us to not put off till tomorrow what we can do today, this way in the 21st century we take care of what we are doing before leaping to the next thing.