Part 8: Why do we sometimes forget simple things: lost keys?

lost keysLost keys or something else?

We have been talking about how our brain manages all of the information that is available to it 24/7.

Memories are things you never forget?

Well not really. There are cases where at least one person has had the ability to remember everything or another can tell you what happened on any day of any year you choose, but can you imagine why you would want to be able to do that. We  are often pleased that we have forgotten something unpleasant. Also it seems we can’t remember much about when we were younger than 4-years old. It seems our brains decide what is relevant and it take some real effort to remember enough to pass a school or college test.

So you can’t find your lost keys?  Perhaps you just had something in your hands and you put it down somewhere and a few minutes later you can’t find them. Don’t worry you’re not losing your mind. You are not in the first stages of Alzheimer’s

Your brain didn’t attach much importance to it because you were probably attending to something else. Most people have such lapses from time to time especially if it’s something you use all the time. The worst part is that most times it takes a long time to find the ‘lost’ keys or other small object

Two things have to happen for you to remember a very small action. First, you have to do it with intent drawing attention to your brain for it to be able to recall the information later on, without getting it confused with all of its memories about the object now ‘lost’. Putting the object down and losing it is usually done because we are distracted from our usual pattern and put the object down without thinking about it. The smaller the object the easier it is to lose. When you park your car in a big car park you do have time to note what floor you parked the car and some have numbered bays. If an outside park, look at the visible scenery from where the car is parked (such as trees, buildings highways nearby) and take a mental picture. When you walk to the exit note where it is from the parked car.

How do we stop this 'lost keys' type memory lapse from happening?

Make a place for every small thing and always put every small thing in its place

Does this work?

If you always stick to the policy, yes but you will still lose things when you don't. Events that you need to do immediately may require you temporarily to put something down.

Here are some solutions (not in order of success)

  • Retrace your steps from the last time you had the ‘lost’ item
  • If you often lose your keys tie a long colourful ribbon or cord to them or a loop that you can hang them on something
  • Ask someone to help look for it
  • Look more carefully in the area before where you normally place the lost item.

What is the difference between getting older and Alzheimer's disease

If you are worried about someone here is a few examples of Normal ageing compared to Alzheimer’s disease

It is normal to:

  • Forget names of people you rarely see or you knew very well decades ago.
  • Briefly forget part of an experience that happened a long time ago
  • Not putting things away properly (Where did you put those keys)
  • Feel sadder or change mood when something awful happens
  • Take up new interests

Early signs of Alzheimer’s disease?

These noticeable changes are more likely to be about here and now. It is not about forgetting the keys or similar items but when things are put in strange places like ice-cream in the pantry. It is about forgetting close friends or family, or anything that happened yesterday. Mood changes with any obvious reason, or to lose interest in doing anything, particularly things enjoyed.

If the person you are worried about the first step is to make a diary and record anything that doesn’t seem normal and if there appears to be an increase then it is time to have an assessments by a medical professional

This is Part 8


Part 1: Study of the Human Brain Part Two: A child is born Part 3: What we put into our body that affects our minds Part 4: What we put into our minds that effects our Brain Part 5: How do other people's actions change us Part 6: Does our Brain Sleep? Part 7: How important is our body condition to our brain health


Part 9: Why do we never forget bad things

Part 10: What are hormones and what do they do?

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