Sunday, December 18, 2005

I've noticed lately that quite a few of my friends, ranging in ages from 30-something to 60-something, forget with alarming frequency things I've told them, in some cases just the day before. Remember, I cue them, I told you Thursday at lunch or in an email. Nope. Nada, they have no memory of my telling them. My memory, too, is not so good, and truth be told I really can't be sure I actually told that particular person --maybe I told someone else instead. Or maybe I just thought I told them. Memory can be fuzzy sometimes.

We are all losing our memories, studies show, and the loss of memory per capita is rising. In fact, Reuters reports that "[LONDON] The number of people suffering from dementia is expected to double every 20 years and could reach more than 81 million worldwide by 2040, health experts predicted on Friday....
A team of scientists from Alzheimer’s Disease International estimate 24.3 million people currently suffer from dementia. Cases are rising by 4.6 million a year or one every 7 seconds....Without prevention, the number will hit 42 million in 20 years and nearly double again by 2040 with the bulk of the increase in India, China, south Asia and the western Pacific."

Will we one day be a world of strangers, with vague memories, greeting one another with "Say, don't I know you?" And the number of new jokes is sure to decline when we will have forgotten the punch lines to the jokes we heard last week or even yesterday. Maybe we will even forget the harm that was done to us by our neighbor, giving new meaning to the axiom "forgive and forget."

Oh, brave new world!

The link above takes you to the Reuters article and in the side bar you'll see memory tests and skill boosters. Test taker beware! Your results may be fireghtening. But don't worry, you'll have forgotten by tomorrow and you can take them again.

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