Thursday, January 17, 2019


I had a dream recently in which I could not remember my street address. This was different from being unable to recall a person’s name or the name of a place while awake. That happens all the time, particularly to baby boomers. In the dream, I could not come up with my street address and naturally, I found this very frustrating.

The standard remedies for memory loss often include the following:

· Avoid prescription medications.

· Eat only organic, Paleo foods

· Eat fish

· Eat fat

· Use spices on your food

· Avoid grains

· Get adequate amounts of quality sleep every night

Seriously? Older people cannot really eliminate prescriptions and to suggest that we can somehow avoid them sounds like nonsense. The diet changes I can handle. Adequate, quality sleep? I wish. That’s another consequence of age and if you ask most 70 year-olds how they are sleeping, 7 our of 10 will tell you “not great.”

I don’t know what aging persons did before the advent of the internet and voice-assistants, but these advances have certainly been a boon to baby boomers. Thanks to OK Google and Alexa, we can get ourselves out of countless recall jams. “Alexa, what do you call those promotional freebies that are given away at trade shows?” ‘Those items are known as swag.’ By the way, the dictionary explains that swag most likely comes from the British slang term for loot, or stolen goods. And that’s way different from merch, which you have to buy.

There are whole theories concerning memory-retrieval issues.Experts say you need to register new information by encoding it with focus and attention. Then you need to store it properly by socking it away in short-term or long-term memory. Finally, you need to facilitate its retrieval by using the cues you established in the registration and storage phases. Sounds complicated, but it’s your brain after all and that’s a busy place. Stress, fatigue or anxiety during the retrieval step throws a monkey wrench into the entire process (let’s not get into where that name comes from or do get into it by Googling Charles Moncky).

It’s not too hard to imagine that soon we will be able to eliminate the Google or Alexa step and just pose our questions to the chip in our brain that has reorganized and alphabetized everything stored there and even some things that are not.

Oh boy!

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept and at BoomSpeak. He's written a mystery novel, Head Above Water which can be purchased on Amazon here. You can also visit his author page here.

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