Is it real?: One of the problems... - Memory Health: Al...

Memory Health: Alzheimer's Support Group
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Is it real?


One of the problems that slaps you in the face as your dementia progresses is a faulty memory. Or more to the point, you can’t trust yourself to believe what your eyes are telling you that you are seeing.

By way of example, I was in the kitchen a couple of days ago looking for a bowl that I had seen sitting on the counter just a short time before. Although I felt I scanned the countertop quite thoroughly, I could not find the bowl. I even moved a few things I knew that could not be blocking it and looked in the cabinet just in case someone had put it away. But alas, it was no where to be found. I called to my wife and asked if she knew what had become of the bowl. Her response was that she had not seen it. So, I went about my business, getting other things for my recipe ready, forgetting completely about the bowl.

Shortly, I needed another item from the area where the bowl should have been. What do you think was sitting there when I returned to that area of the countertop? If you guessed the aforementioned bowl you win the day’s kewpie prize. Apparently I had looked directly at the bowl earlier without ever seeing it. It just did not register in my mind that the bowl was actually there. All I saw was the empty countertop that I was accustomed to seeing. My mind had totally erased the bowl from my vision.

To say I was flabbergasted is a major understatement. I struggled with the thought that my mind had had this major a slip. I decided briefly that I had just simply been careless in my search for the bowl. But upon reflection, no, I had indeed given it my best efforts and come up short. And upon reflection, it wasn’t the first time. Keys have suddenly shown up where I thought they should have been lately after my being unable to find them just a short time before. I have tripped over shoes that I just looked to make sure weren’t there. There are many more examples but I’m sure you get the idea.

To say this is frustrating is belittling to the situation. It doesn’t even start to describe the emotions these events evoke. I can even see where it could be frightening to those who have little or no experience with dementia patients. There is little to be done about it as far as I know but to be hyper vigilant in my actions from this point forward. However, as my mind continues to falter, that becomes more and more difficult, if not impossible.

Enjoy your day.


3 Replies

Randy, I chuckled reading your story, and I know this happens to many of us sans-dementia as well. "Inattentional blindness" is at play here:

in reply to ChristianElliott

Thanks Christian, that was an informative read.

in reply to ChristianElliott


Randy is more than familiar with this theory of mine but it intersects with your post on inattentional blindness. Its not a fully-formed theory but its like I can see part of a pattern and would like your thoughts please. It goes like this. I have lived out Randys scenario dozens of times with variations but sometimes things and people can seem to appear where I don't recall them being moments earlier. Sometimes this can be written off to out and out distraction on a LBD level but sometimes like Randy I can have very clear memories of looking at or examining the area in question and seeing nothing when bang there they/it is. So far it follows the pattern of the one described in your article but here is where this is different.....first, keep in mind that I know that *I* at least have execute function issues, at times worse than others. Also, if you have read my older writings you will recall that EFD can affect sight, listening, etc....we have these lines/sources of continual input but I think when your mind is wanting to take in and use all the input (say in an emergent situation) and you know you need to...but your brain can't process it all fast enough, I think sometimes it presents a recalled image of what you expect it to look like, so if normally the table is empty but you are looking for your keys, and the executive function is being stressed, like in my case, looking for the keys but being asked by my wife if I fed the dogs.....I am trying to satisfy her query while still looking for my keys, a simple task for the old when my eyes are gazing about the room but my mind/brain is trying to respond to her, my mind is fed the memory of the table, not the processed image. Hard to describe but once you see the pattern, it plays out over and over again in my daily life. .If there is any validity to this (might be hog-wash; consider the source) though it would explain much and take a certain amount of mystery out of my day. At this point I am David Copperfield and could stand a little less mystery. But bigger or maybe just plain more entertaining to me is the idea that my mind would actually do that, like passing off an old book report as a new one...

Kidding aside, the key things in the pattern at the EFD being stressed on some level while trying to accomplish some autonomous task. I can't predict when it will happen but after it does, the reasons and pattern are painfully obvious to the most casual observer. I don't want to get into ideas behind WHY your brain would do this unbidden but if its doing it, I would love to know (somehow) if it does it in an attempt to try and help us/me or is it just misfiring and retrieving any "close" memory (in this case, of the table) or is it out and out lying to me?