Help! I’m Losing It!

I entered the psychologist’s office reluctantly. But I knew I had to find out if I was losing my memory.

The psychologist greeted me and led me to a huge black leather reclining chair. He looked a lot like Sigmund Freud, oval head, balding, deep-set eyes and a grey beard and mustache.

“Doctor, I’m afraid I’m losing my memory and if it goes so will my identity!”

I called him doctor, I didn’t know if he was or not, but it sounded more like he would know what he is talking about if I called him doctor!

“What makes you think this is not just normal aging?”

“It happens too often and it makes me feel powerless.”

“That’s you choosing to feel powerless, I will help you “unchoose” that perception. What you need is a new mindset!”

Now I was getting confused.

“What is a mindset?”

The Freud look alike cleared his throat and said:

“Mindsets are beliefs, perceptions and attitudes; in your case your beliefs and attitudes about memory and aging. How you think about things, negatively or positively.”

“Doctor, I know memory erodes with age, I just turned seventy, does this mean, I am declining in my cognitive functioning?”

I thought I’d throw that in, “cognitive functioning”, so he wouldn’t think I’m  a dummy.

Freud continued: “Our beliefs are the rules and values that guide us in our daily activities.”

Then I went off the deep end.

“Doctor, I know my memory is failing and I can’t stand it.”


“I can’t relax, this is awful, I can’t remember my neighbor’s name or the items I needed at the grocery store. My memory is bad and it is only going to get worse!”

I started breathing heavy!

“You’re going to exhaust yourself, if you don’t calm down,” said Freud.

The doctor stared at me like he could see into my soul!

“Okay, lets get this therapy on the road. I’m going to give you an event and I want you to respond to it. Ready? Here we go:

“Oh, I forgot two items from the grocery store!”

I blurted out: “Oh god, I’m losing it. Could this be the beginning of dementia?”

“Now see, your response should have been:

“Well, I remembered the other eight items. I guess I wasn’t paying attention.”

I nodded.

Freud smiled and said: “Now I’m going to teach you a little memory trick. Sometimes there is an emotional component to your forgetfulness. Suppose you can’t recall the name of a person you couldn’t get along with. You remember your anger but you can’t remember the name. You need to counter the anger with humor. Think of a funny thing about that person. Humor encourages memory function. The anger response is gone and you can refocus on the name you want to recall. This trick is called, Distract So You Can Remember.”

“My brain was aching with all that information.”

Freud said: “I think you will be alright now. There probably isn’t a lot of things you forget.”

As I was leaving I said:

“There’s three things I forget a lot, names and faces and now I’ve forgotten the other thing!!!

The Three Score and Ten Plus Club

The sign on the door said, “The Oldies Club”, Must Be At Least Three Score and Ten.

I opened the door and entered a large dimly lit room where six people, three men and three women, were sitting in a circle in deep discussion. They all stopped talking and looked at me. I explained I was thinking of joining the club and would they mind if I sat in the back and listened for a while.

They all smiled at me and nodded, pointing to a chair in the corner.

They introduced themselves to me. First, there was Dave, who had sparse grey hair and blemishes and age spots on his hands and face. He had two canes hanging on the back of his chair.

Then there was Tom, balding with deep wrinkles covering his face. But he had a twinkle in his eyes. He also had a cane hanging on his chair.

And then Jim, he had a big smile but it was almost toothless. He was in a wheelchair.

There was Martha, heavy-set and jolly with strands of grey hair hanging down on her face. She had a Zimmer frame parked at the side of her chair.

Next was Alice, she stammered when she talked and she had a thin face etched with wrinkles.

Lastly there was Mabel, her abundant grey hair was tied into a bun and she had a stern face. She reminded me of one of my old school teachers. She had an extremely thick cane hanging on her chair.

They all turned away from me and Dave said: “Okay, back to our discussion, what was it now? Oh yes, the positive self-talk needed to counter the fear of death!”

“I don’t fear death, it’s just the sickness, pain and suffering before death that bothers me,” said Mabel.

Alice spoke up: “Yes, I agree with Mabel. There is no pain in death, just nothingness.”

“Well, what bothers me,” said Jim, “ is the fear of not existing anymore, you know, a permanent end to life.”

‘I fear the unknown aspect of death, is there an afterlife or what will happen after death?” said Martha.

Tom commented: “What I fear is the loneliness connected with losing my loved ones and friends and I’m left!”

Alice started coughing which interrupted the discussion. She took some pills. She then took a deep breath and mumbled: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have a peaceful natural death?”

“Peaceful natural death, what’s that?” said Dave angrily. “All the oldies I’ve seen die have been sick, crippled and in the throes of dementia. They were soiling their beds and they were lonely and enduring extreme pain. It’s a slow agonizing process, which I want to avoid!”

They all stared at Dave, some shaking their heads and some nodding.

“What are you suggesting, Dave?” said Martha.

“If I end up like I just described, I would want to choose to die instead of enduring the lack of dignity and extreme pain of the dying process. I think we have the right to choose the time and conditions of our death!”

Jim said: “I feel the same way as Dave. I had a dream the other night that I was trapped in my wheelchair. I was in pain and I was slowly losing my memory. It was a terrible nightmare!”

Dave continued: “What I’m suggesting is called Self-Deliverance. It’s the taking of your own life to escape the suffering, pain and loss of your quality of life.”

“It’s not a nice thing to think about,” said Tom, “but you would want to stay alive as long as you enjoy your life.”

“Of course Tom, that’s what I mean, if you have your hobbies and people around you and can control your pain, your quality of life would still be there. So, consequently, you naturally would want to continue on as long as possible.”

Alice spoke up, slowly slurring her words: “I am in the first stages of dementia. I know it’s progressive and eventually I will lose all quality of life, but I don’t know if I could end my own life or be assisted!”

“That’s entirely your choice, Alice. All I’m saying is, we should all have the choice of when and how we die.”

Jim started laughing and said: “All I know is, I know I’m old because it takes longer for me to rest than to get tired!”

“Leave it to you Jim, to lighten things up.”

Tom joined in: “Every afternoon I have a happy hour just like my pub, it’s called a NAP!”

The whole club laughed.

Dave ended the discussion: “We all have to tell ourselves that we will stay alive as long as we ENJOY our life. It’s what we say to ourselves in response to any situation that determines our moods and feelings.”

Then Dave turned to me and said: “Well, are you going to join our club?”

As I walked out the door, I said: “I’m only 69, maybe I’ll see you in a year!”


Aging On The Green Padded Stool!

As I was sipping my beer, I was looking at the oil paintings behind the bar at my favorite watering hole. In walked my Long Lost Cousin. He hopped up on a green padded stool and said:

“I’m a little depressed since I celebrated my 65th birthday!”

“Bartender, give my cousin a whiskey. Now, why are you depressed?”

“Well, I read an article on the 50 signs of aging and I had all of them!” He took a sip of his whiskey.

“I probably would have them all too, but I accept “What Is” and get on with my life.”

“But cousin, now that I’m retired and don’t have to go to work anymore, I don’t want to age so fast!”

“Aging is natural, the progression of life, it’s a reality!”

“But why does it have to happen so quick that it sneaks up on you? I looked in the mirror this morning when I was naked and said to my wife:

“I’m old, fat and wrinkled. Cheer me up. Pay me a compliment.”

“Well,” she said, “Your eyesight is still good!” This is what I have to put up with!”

“Well, my cousin, it’s the effect of energy on your body. Like rain, sunshine and wind, it’s physical erosion. Wear and tear!”

“You’re making me feel worse than my wife does.”

“That’s just erosion from external sources. There’s internal erosion as well. Metabolism is the machinery of chemistry, billions of chemical reactions in the body, which drives life. It creates order out of chaos!”

“All this is going on in my body?”

“Yes, these chemical reactions over time create internal trash which accumulate over time. Cells die, some get renewed, but not all. It’s all part of living. With age our body becomes less efficient at detoxifying!”

“But cousin, I’m getting to be a physical and mental wreck! I’m stiff, losing my hair and I groan when I bend down. I forget names and I fall asleep in front of the TV after a glass of wine. It’s terrible!”

We sat in silence, drinking and staring at the oil paintings behind the bar. My LLC then spoke and broke the mood.

“And the article ended with this alarming statement: Aging fosters sickness, pain, suffering, dementia and makes us more likely to meet the grim reaper quicker!”

“Boy, you’re a bundle of sunshine!”

“But I don’t want to die faster. I want to delay it!”

“When it’s your time, it’s your time, nothing you can do about it. I don’t fear it because I don’t think there is anything in death; it is just eternal nothingness, oblivion.”

“Now whose a bundle of sunshine?” said my cousin grimly.

“Well cousin, we are growing older right here on these green padded stools!”

My cousin had a glazed look in his eyes and said:

“In my twenties, I never thought about growing older. I was in peak physical condition. In my thirties and forties, I got smarter and was still in good shape. But now in my sixties, I feel the negative effects of age: aches and pains, forgetfulness, wrinkles, grey hair or no hair! Cousin, can we stop aging?”

I smiled and ordered two more drinks for us.

“So cousin, you want a CURE for aging?”

“Yes, three score and ten is not enough time!”

“Maybe someday there will be a cure for aging. None of us want to spend our final years in physical pain and suffering from mental decline.”

My cousin gulped his whiskey in one go. And as he headed out the door, he said:

“All I know is that I don’t know how I got over the hill without making it to the top!”