Life and memories

business of life“The business of life is really just the acquisition of memories; at the end of life, that’s all we’ve got left.”

The quote above was in a television program I watched recently, and is a version of the one by Carson pictured here. My question is, where does that leave a person when they cannot recall their memories?

Of course, we are more than our memories. Even when, for example, we are in gaol, in isolation, or sailing around the world alone; although we might not have many things to do in some of those instances, there would be people we could communicate with or think about, journals to write about our experience, and so on.

What would it be like, if we were locked away, and couldn’t remember anyone to write a letter to, or enough to write a journal? This is of course, exactly what happens to people with dementia in a ‘Secure Memory Unit’…

Lately, my memory has been getting worsen and there are a lot more blank spaces. It was not a salient feature of my original diagnosis, and so it did not worry me that much, but now that I’m finding it more difficult, it is definitely an annoying and occasionally frustrating symptom of dementia.

I’ve been wondering what it will be like, when I no longer have insight. Will I be what is still occasionally being referred to in the literature as a ‘vacant dement’? Will I know it, or have glimpses of my life? Maybe it will be better than knowing I am forgetting, and can’t do things basic things like start the dishwasher or simple maths anymore. I guess it goes back to this..!

6 thoughts on “Life and memories

  1. I don’t believe that is the business of life ……. I think it’s leaving a positive mark on others ….. for example, being a great mother, a loyal and good friend, a kind neighbour …. hope you know what I mean.

    16 years ago I lost all 31 years worth of memories (except walking, talking etc and names and faces) and can’t make any real memories now. And for me it’s very very upsetting. So if you get upset be kind to yourself because I think it’s only natural.

    Lately my remembering has been worse – today I couldn’t remember what my local shopping street looked like – we have 2 sides of the street filled with lots of shops and I couldn’t for the liffe of me remember ANYTHING about it ….. and for 5 minutes. Then I went to my corkboard and had a look at my “map” of the street to see if it would bring back memories and it didn’t for a few minutes. Then I slowly remembered. And it was very very scary.

    • Thanks for your comments, and it is a great way to look at it. I guess I was wondering what it will be like, when I cannot remember I have been a mother, wife or anything else… so sorry your remembering is getting worse. Sending hugs always xx

  2. The more I read, the less the term “Vacant dement” has any place in discussion of dementia. The perceived “vacancy” seems to be all about how someone is cared for. Poetry sessions with people with dementia demonstrate how much is still going on. It is important that more research into how we can support communication rather than the assumption of “vacancy”.

    • Oh I so agree with you… and have seen poetry demonstrate that too. I’ve also run a poetry workshop for people bereaved through suicide and have seen extraordnary healing take place.

      • How interesting, Kate. I have been thinking this morning how just a little “attention paid” means people can live again. I used to be part of a Co-Counselling Community where we took turns to give each other one to one “positive regard while listening without judgement” and the transformations after a short session were quite wonderful! Isolation freezes but human warmth spreads so well in any medium!

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