Recently I published a TED talk about false memories, and although I’ve not yet had the time or brain energy to process it completely, it might be of value to consider the impact of false memories on dementia, good or bad. One of these days I’ll remember to!
However, it has had me thinking about memory again, and the impact of not being able to remember or recall one’s own world and life. I also recently met someone who plays the piano, and when she saw my piano, asked me if I played. Well, I used to play the piano, not that well, but well enough; I could read music and generally speaking make a half reasonable tune. Now, I cannot even read the sheet music.
I play the scales most days, partly to try to get my brain to remember, partly to exercise my increasingly painful arthritic hands, and finally as part of my neuroplasticity brain training. I also find it relaxing, even though the scales are a tad boring!!!
So what is it really like losing some or almost all of your ability to recall information that you once knew?
Initially it is embarrassing and confusing, and then a very strange experience to not remember part of your own identity. I don’t mean simply misplacing the keys a few times, but NOT REMEMBERING knowledge you once had, including things like people’s names and faces, or in my case, things like medical knowledge or how to play read sheet music and the piano. Frustration, annoyance, humiliation, even a sense of shame creeps in.
Ultimately, as people with dementia move into the final stages of the disease, it depends on the type of dementia as to how it impacts your memory. For me, even now, it leaves me feeling like a slowly emptying hourglass…