Our family values and embraces being honest and forthright. Topics of religion, politics and sex are fair game at any family gathering, and differences of opinion have been encouraged, accepted and honored. So it seemed only natural to be open with my children regarding my diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment. From the onset I have shared with them how I have been experiencing the progression of my memory loss.
As time passed I became aware of repeating myself, and I asked my children and Keith to please interrupt me and tell me if I was telling the same story again or relating an event or conversation for the third or fourth time. My intention was to save myself from being embarrassed. This was very important to me. So, when the children or Keith would gently offer, “You’ve already told me that,” I would always respond with a very sincere, “Thank you.” Because their little ‘nudge’ did cause some spark of recognition that yes, I was repeating myself.
Now as I’m into my fourth year of memory loss, the frequency of my lapses have increased. I’m not only telling stories I’ve told repeatedly; I often ask the same question within a short time span. “What time are we leaving?” “Who are we picking up?” “What are we having for dinner?” “Where did you say we are going today?”
Instead of just answering me, I often hear a hint of impatience along with “You’ve asked me that three times already” from Beth, or “I told you I was going to be gone this morning many times yesterday,” from Keith. Just recently during our visit out East, Steven told me he’s noticed a significant decline in my memory since our last visit. Groan!
Here’s the rub: while I did indeed specifically ask my family to tell me when I repeat myself or when I have asked the same question multiple times in a short period of time…now I’m sorry I did so.
Being told of my increasing occurrences of forgetfulness (i.e. memory loss), I now realize, is of no value to me. I’m already aware of enough of them myself. I know I don’t recall the answer to the question; that’s why I’m asking again. While I once thought reminders would be of benefit to me—now they are increasing my anxiety.
My new rationale (or perhaps justification) is that if I’m not causing any harm or danger to anyone by forgetting a few names or casual conversations, or even missing an insignificant date, like yoga, what’s the big deal? I haven’t hurt anyone. Nor am I in any sort of danger due to these misses. Thus, these inconsequential lapses aren’t worth mentioning.
Of course, I realize I must now tell my family: “I’ve changed my mind. I want to take back my request of ‘telling me,’ when I repeat or forget; even though I know it must be frustrating to hear me repeat myself, and so often. But I’m asking you that unless what I’ve forgotten is crucial, let it be, because being reminded doesn’t help me anymore.”
Oh, and yes, I’ll likely add, “And just so you know, I’m pretty certain I’m going to change my mind about this again in the future. So I’ll add on right know a thank you for loving me and caring about me, and especially for listening and understanding my need to change my mind—as often as I need.”