Well, we’re all getting older. And you can’t set the clock back. Not only can’t you run a mile as fast as a sloth (these animals are slower than centipedes), hit a ball over the fence for a home run or jump over the tennis net like you used to, but your joints are so stiff and ache so much that you can’t even get out of bed to go to the bathroom. Bunky, you just aint the same physically. Okay, we know that. But now, what about your brain? What’s goin’ on there? Nothin’! Hey, that may be the problem. Say, who’s the female movie star in Gone With The Wind? Gee, I can see her face. God, what’s her name? And, eh, who sang King Of the Road? I just can’t think of his name right now. And what’s that word when you water down something (adulterate) – it’s on the tip of my tongue, I just can’t get it. Oh, yeah, and I just can’t find my keys. Where the hell are my keys? Honey, did you see my keys? Jeez, somebody must have moved ‘em. Who took my keys?
There is an undeniable loss of mental capacity as we age. Don’t fret, this loss of brainpower – psychiatrists call it Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) – is normal (i.e., doesn’t interfere with activities of daily living) and, if it’s minimal or limited, it is not dementia. I repeat: Not Dementia. (Note: MCI is common in Parkinson’s Disease). So, can we do anything about it? Yup, we can. Right now there is no miracle pill to right the ship (in any of the various dementias). But the NIH, as well as other medical researchers, have pointed to such diverse treatment modalities as diet, sleep, exercise, antioxidants, reducing stress – and a host of others, for both MCI and dementia. And now, (drum roll), I will introduce something practical that anyone can utilize to help with at least some of these vexing difficulties. It’s simple and elegant (if I do say so, myself). I call it the Reefing Method.
Reefing is a nautical term. It refers to reducing the area of a sail (‘shortening’ sail) in order to lessen the force of the wind on a boat (and thereby reduce the danger of losing the sail, the mast or the boat). Reefing embodies the concept of urgency. Relating to this, the answer to “When do you reef?” is always introduced as a memorable adage to all sailor newbies. And the answer is: You reef when you first think of it. You do it now! Don’t wait. When you feel scared or begin to sense some fearful expectation – that something foul is about to happen – you act on the spot, because waiting could be dangerous or potentially catastrophic. Pay heed to your instincts and act with alacrity.
And now extrapolating – putting the reefing concept, this Reefing Method, into use as a memory aid. It’s really quite simple, as I said. It comes down to this. When you think of it, do it. Example: I’m almost out of medication and have to call my doctor for a new prescription, but I’m about to eat lunch. Your response should be to call the physician’s office right then and there. Your hunger will cue your lunch afterward. Example II: You’re in bed and you’ve just remembered that you have to call your friend in the morning. Your response should be (if it’s too late to make the call) to write down this ‘must do’ thing right away on a piece of paper and put it in plain sight so that you will do it in the morning. I can tell you from sad personal experience, that if you don’t write it down you won’t remember to do it the next day.
All right then, how does this help me with remembering where my keys are, or remembering the female star of Gone With The Wind or the singer of King of the Road (Vivien Leigh, Roger Miller)? Beats me. Try eating your Wheaties! … Or just ask Google. Lao Du